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20fl3 /3 ) 



HARVARD COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




VBOM THS^ BBQUSST OF 

JAMES WALKER 

<a«M of 1814) 
Preaideni of Harvard CoUege 



'Prafi 



ice Mttg giTMft to wovka in Hm Intril<wtn>l 
«ad Moral 



/ 



• '^^'^^^^. 



■*-- 



THE 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



OF 



LEIGH HUNT. 



VOL. 11. 



THE 



autobiography 
'leigh hunt, 






^■•^-'^.f-J 



WITH 



REMINISCENCES 



OF FRIENDS AND CONTEMPORARIES. 



" Most men, when drawn to speak about themselves. 
Are mov'd by little and little to say more 
Than they first dreamt ; nntil at last they blush. 
And can but hope to find secret excuse 
In the 8elf«knowledge of their auditors." 

Walteb Scott's OU Flay. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



I 

LONDON: 



SMITH, ELDER AND CO., 65, COBNHILL. 

1850. 



7 






LOVDOK t 
r&INTED BT STZWAST AND MUKBAT, 



OLD BAILBT. y 



^ 



V» 



'^ , 

\ '-'-. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. 11. 



^^k^k^kA^l^k^^%^k#^<« 



CITAPTEB IX. 

THE EXAMINER. 

Establishment of the Examiner, — Albany Fonblanqae. — Author's 
mistakes in setting out in his editorial career. — Objects of the 
Examiner, and misrepi'esentations of them by the Tories. — Jeu- 
d' esprit of " Napoleon in his Cabinet." — " Breakfast Sympathies 
with the Miseries of War." — War dispassionately considered.— 
Anti-Republicanism of the Exami7i£rf and its views in theology. 
— ^The Author for some time a clerk in the War Office. — His 
patron, Mr. Addington, afterwards Lord Sidmouth. — Poetry and 
Accounts ••••.••.. 1 




CHAPTER X. 

LITERARY ACQUAINTANCE. 

Du Bois. — Campbell. — ^Theodore Hook. — Matthews. — James and 
Horace Smith. — Fusel! . — Bonnycastle. — Einnaird, &c 17 

CHAPTER XL 

POLITICAL CHARACTERS. 

Ministry of the I^ttites. — Time-serving conduct of the Allies.—- 
Height and downfall of Napoleon. -> Character of George the Third. 



VI CONTENTS. 

-—Mistakes and sincerity of the Examiner. — Indictment against it 
respecting tlie case of Major Hogan. — Affair of Mrs. Clarke- 
Indictment respecting tlie reign of George the Third. — Perry, pro- 
prietor of the Morning Chronicle, — Characters of Lord Canning, 
Liverpool, and Lord Castlereagh. — ^Whigs and Whig-Radicals.— 
Queen Victoria. — Royalty and Republics. — Indictment respecting 
military flogging. — ^The Attorney-General, Sir Vicaiy Gibbs 45 



CHAPTER XIL 

LITERARY WARFARE. 

The R^iector and the writers in it^'Feast of the Poets, — Its attack 
on Giffoi-d for his attack on Mrs. Robinson. — Character of Gifford 
and his Writings. — Specimens of the Baviad and Moemad, — jtfis 
appearance at the Roxbm'gh Sale of Books. — ^Attack on Walter 
Scott, occasioned by a passage in his edition of Dryden. — ^Tory 
Calumny. — Quarrels and recriminations of authors. — The writer's 
present opinion of Sir Walter. — General offence caused by the 
Feast of the Poets. — Its inconsiderate treatment of Hayley. — 
Dinner of the Prince Regent. — Holland House and Lord Holland. 
— Neutralization of Whig advocacy. — Recollections of Blanco 
White 83 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE REGENT AND THE EXAMINER. 

** The Prince on St. Patrick's Day.** — Indictment for an attack on 
the Regent in that article.— Present feelings of the writer on the 
subject. — Real sting of the offence in the article. — Sentence of the 
proprietors of the JExaminer to an imprisonment for two years. — 
Their rejection of two proposals of compromise. "* Lord Ellen- 
borough, Mr. Garrow, and Mr. Justice Grose ...•«. 114 



• • 



CONTENTS. VU 



CHAPTER XIV. 

IMPKISONMENT. 

Author's ittipriBonment.^Cnrloas specimen of a jailer, and nnder- 
jailer, and an under-jailer's wire.*-Mr. Holme Sumner. — Con- 
Tendon of a room in a prison into a fairy bower. -^ Author's 
Tisiton. — A heart-rending spectacle. — Felons and debtors. -^ 
Restoration to Freedom 13G 



CHAPTER XV. 

FREE AGAIN. — SHELLEY IN ENGLAND. 

Dignified neighbour and landlord. — Visits from Lord Byron and 
Mr. Wordsworth. — Infernal conduct of the angels in Paradise 
Lost, — Return of hypochondria. — Descent of liberty. — Story of 
iZtmini. — United States. — Visits to Lord Byron, — History of 
Shelley while in England 160 



y 



CHAPTER XVI 



KEATS^ LAMB, AND COLERIDGE. 

Charles Cowden Clarke. — Keats and Shelley. — Mr. Monckton 
Milnes's Letters and Remains of Keats. — " Other-worldliness.'' — 
Armitage Brown. — Keats and Lamb. — Wordsworth on Shakspeare. 
—Milton dining. — Keats and Byron,— Keats in Italy. —His death 
and personal appearance. — " Foliage." — ^The Indicator, — Tasso's 
Aminta, — Foolish ignorance of business. —Mr. Lockhart. — Per- 
sonal appearance of Lamb. — Character of his genius. — His bon* 
mots and imaginary notices of his friends. — Person of Coleridge. — 
Character of his genius. — Coleridge and Hazlitt. — Coleridge's 
conversation and daily habits 201 



tm CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XVIL 

VOYAGE TO ITALY. 

Keasons of the Author's voyage to Italy. — Desiderata in accounts of 
voyagers. — Gunpowder. — Setting off. — Noisy navigation of small 
vessels. — Cabin and berths. — Sea-captains. — Deal pilots and 
boatmen. — Putting in at Ramsgate.— Condorcet's *' Progress of 
Society y '-'A. French vessel and its occupants. — Setting off again. 
—Memorable stormy season. — Character of the captain and mate. 
— Luigi Rivarola. — Notices of the sailors. — ^Watching at night.— 
Discomforts of sea in winter. — A drunken cook. — A goat and 
ducks. — Hypochondria. — Dullness and superstition of sailors. — A 
gale of fifty-six hours 230 




CHAPTER XVIII. 



RETURN TO FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH LORD BYRON 

AND THOMAS MOORE. 

First sight of Lord Byron. — Jackson the prize-fighter. — Bathing at 
Westminster.— Sympathy with early poems. — More prison recol- 
lections. — Lord Byron and the House of Peers. — ^Thomas Moore 
and the Liberal, — Mistaken conclusions of his.— His appearance, 
manners, and opinions. — ^Letters of Lord Byron 308 



AUTOBIOGKAPHY OF LEIGH HUNT. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE EXAMINER. 

Establishment of the Examiner. — Albany Fonblanque, — Author's 
mistakes in setting out in his editorial career.— Objects of the 
Examiner, and misrepresentations of them by the Tories. — Jea- 
d'esprit of " Napoleon in his Cabinet.^ — " Breakfast Sympathies 
with the Miseries of War^ — War dispassionately considered. — 
Axti-Bepublicanism of the Examiner, and its views in theology. 
— The Author for some time a clerk in the War Office. — His 
pairon, Mr. Addington, afterwards Lord Sidmouth.^~Poetry and 
Accounts. 

At the beginning of the year 1808^ my brother John 
and myself set up the weekly paper of the Examiner 
m jomt partnership. It was named after the Exa- 
miner of Swift and his brother Tories. I did not 
think of their politics. I thought only of their wit 
and fine writing, which, in my youthful confidence, 
I proposed to myself to emulate ; and I could find 
no previous political journal equally qualified to be 

VOL. XI. B 



^ 

V 



2 l^IFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

its godfather. Even Addison had called his opposi- 
tion paper the Whig Examiner, 

Some dozen years afterwards I had an editorial 
successor^ Mr. Fonblanque, who had all the wit 
for which I toiled^ without making any pretensions 
t0< it. He waS) indeed^ the genuine successor^ not of 
me, but of the Swifts and Addlsons themselves ; pro- 
fuse of wit even beyond them, and superior in 
political knowledge. Yet, if I laboured hard for 
what was so easy to Mr. Fonblanque, I will not 
pretend to think that I did not sometimes find it ; 
and the study of Addison and Steele, of Goldsmith 
and Voltaire, endbied me, when I was pleased with 
ray subject, to give it the appearance of ease. At 
other times, e^ecially on serious occasions, I too 
ofton got into a (^damfttory vein, full- of what I 
thought fine turns and Johnsonian antitbesik The 
new office of editor conspired with my success as a 
critic to turn my head. I wrote, though anony- 
mously, in the first person, as if, in addition to my 
theatrical' pretentions, I had suddenly become an 
oracte in politics; the worda philosophy, poetry, 
criticism, statesmanship, nay, even ethica and theo- 
logy, aU took a fi^al^ tone in my lips \ and when I 
consider the virtue as well as knowledge which I 
demanded fr^m everybody whom I had occasion to 
q)eak of, and of how much charity my own juvenilie 
errors- ought to have considered themsislvea ia need 



EGOTII^ AlTD ITS BXGBETS. 3 

(however they smgbt baye been warraK&ted by eoa- 
yentioiiBl allowuiice)^ I will not say I was a bypo- 
erite in the odious sense of the word, f(»r it was all 
done ont of a spirit of foppery and " fine writing," 
and I never aflPected any formal virtues; in private ; 
bai when I conaader all the nonsense and extrava- 
ganee of those assumptions — aU the harm they must 
have done me in discerning eyes, and all the reason- 
able amount of resentment which it was preparing 
fer me with adversaries^ I blush to think what a 
fflmpleton I was,, and how much of the conseq.uences 
I deserved. It is out of no " ostentation of candour" 
Idbat I make this confession. It is extremely painful^ 
to me. 

Suffering gradually worked me out of a good deal 
of this kind of egc^ism. I hope that even the present 
most involuntarily egotistical book affords evidence 
that I am pretty weU rid of it ; and I mfifit add, in my 
behalf^ that, in every other respect,, n^every at that 
time or at any after time, was I otherwise than an 
faooest man. I overrated my claims to public atten- 
tion; I greatly overdid the manner of addressing 
it ; and I was not too abundant in either ; but I set 
out perhaps with as good an editorial amoimit of 
quaMfication as most writers no older. I was fairly 
grounded in English history; I had csu'efuUy read 
De Lolme and Bkckstone; I had no mercenary 
views whatsoever, though I was a proprietor of the 

B 2 



V 



4 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

journal ; and all the levity of my ammal spirits, and 
the foppery of the graver part of my pretensions, 
had not destroyed in me that spirit of martyrdom 
which had been inculcated in me from the cradle. 
I denied myself political as well as theatrical 
acquaintances; I was the reverse of a speculator 
upon patronage or employment ; and I was prepared, 
with my excellent brother, to suffer manfully, should 
the time for suffering arrive. 

The spirit of the criticism on the theatres continued 
the same as it had been in the Neit>s. /\u politics, 
from old family associations, I soon got interested as a 
man, though I never could love them as a writer, y 
It was against the grain that I was encouraged to 
begin them ; and against the grain I ever afterwards 
sat down to write, except when the subject was of a 
very general description, and I could introduce 
philosophy and the belles lettres. 

The main objects of the Examiner newspaper were 
to assist in producing Keform in Parliament, liberality 
of opinion in general (especially freedom from super- 
stition), and a fusion of literary taste into all subjects 
whatsoever. It began with being of no party ; but 
Keform soon gave it one. It disclauned all know-^ 
ledge of statistics ; and the rest of its politics were 
rather a sentiment, and a matter of training, than 
founded on any particular political reflection. It 
possessed the benefit, however, of a good deal of 



ANTX-EXAMINEB CHABGEB BEFUTED. 

general reading. It never wanted examples out of 
history and biography^ or a kind of adornment from 
the spirit of literature ; and it gradually drew to its 
perusal many intelligent persons of both sexes^ who 
would, perhaps, never have attended to politics under 
any other circumstances. 

In the course of its warfare with the Tories, the 
Examiner waa charged with Bonaparteism, with 
republicanism, with disaiFection to Church and State, 
with conspiracy at the tables of Burdett, and Cobbett, 
and Henry Hunt. Now Sir Francis, though he was 
for a long time our hero, we never exchanged a word 
with ; and Cobbett and Henry Hunt (no relation of 
ours) we never beheld; — never so much as saw their 
faces. I was never even at a public dinner ; nor do 
I believe my brother was. We had absolutely no 
views whatsoever, but those of a decent competence 
and of the public good ; and we thought, I dare affirm, 
a great deal more of the latter than of the former. 
Our competence we allowed too much to shift for 
itself. Zeal for the public good was a family inheri- j 
tance; and this we thought ourselves bound t^ 
increase. As to myself, what I thought of, more 
than either, was the making of verses. I did nothing 
for the greater part of the week but write verses 
and read books. I then made a rush at my editorial 
duties; took a world of superfluous pains in the 
writing; sat up late at night, and was a very trying 



C LIFE OF I^IGH HUNT. 

person to compodtors and newfimen. 1 sometinm 
have before me the ^lost of a pale and goutj printer 
whom I fipedally eaused to suffer, and who neTcr 
complained. I think of him and of eome needj 
dramatist, and wish they had been worse men. 

The Examiner conmienced at the time when Botvi-* 
parte was at the height o£ his power. He had the 
continent at his £eet ; and three of his brothers were 
on thrones. The reader may judge of our BonapartkK; 
tendencies by the following dramatic aketch, whidbi 
appeared in the £rst number:--^ 



KAPOLEON IN HIS CABIISrET. 
Scene, — A Cabinet at St. Cloud. 

KAVOiiEOv, \RumiMiting before ujire andgroipiHg « pektr."} 
Who waits there ? 

Le M. May it please your Majesty, your faithful soldier, Le 
Meurtrier. 

Nap. Tell Sultan Mustapha that he is the last of the 
Sultans. 

Le M. Yes, sire. 

Nap. And, huk ye-r-denie the kwg of Holland to ^ome ^ 
me directly. 

Lb M. Tes, sire. 

Nap. And the king of Westphalia. — lAsidel 1 must tweak 
Jerome hy the nose a little, to teach him dignity. 

Le M. \_fVith hesitation,'] M. Champagny, sire, waits to know 
your Majest/s^ pleasure respecting the king of Sweden* 



" NAPCHJGON m HIS ^AffiBNET." 7 

STap. Oh— lell bira, I'U kt the 'boj alone ior a vtonth or 
two. And stay, Le JVieurtrier^ go to the editor of the Moniteur^ 
and tell him to dethrone the queen of Portugal. — Spain^s 
dethronement is put off to next year. Where's Bienseance ? 

l^Extt Lb Meurtrieb, and enter Biensbance. 

Btbn. May it please your august majesty, Biendeattoe is 
before you. 

Kap. Fetch me C^enefal F.'s head, atad a cup of coffee. 

BiEN. [Smiling with devotion.'] Every syllable uttered by the 
great Napoleon convinoes Frenchmen that he is their father. 

l^Exit Bienseance. 

Nap. [Meditating with ferocity ,] After driving the Turks out 
of Europe [pokes the fire\y I must annihilate England \g%ve% a 
furious poke] ; but first— I shall over-run India ; then I shall 
request America and Africa to put thenoelves under tny 
protection; and after making that great jackass, die Rus- 
sian Emperor, one of my tributaries, crown myself emperor 
•f l^e east — west •-^ north — and south. Then I mfust have 
a balloon army, of which Garnerin shall be fieM-marshal ; 
fer I must positively take possession of the comet, because it 
makes a noise, lliat will assist me to conqu^ the sc^ar system | 
and then I shall go with my army to the -ei^ier systems ; and 
then— I think — ^I shall go to the devil.-^-^ 

I thought of Bonaparte at tliat time as I have 
thought ever since; to-wil, that he was a great 
soldier^ and little else ; that lie was not a man of the 
highest order of intellect^ much less a cosmopolite ; 
that he was ^ retmspeetive rather than a pro»peo» 



8 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

tive man^ ambitious of old renown instead of new ; 
and would advance the age as far^ and no farther, as 
suited his views of personal aggrandizement The 
Examiner^ however much it differed with the military- 
policy of Bonaparte's antagonists, or however meanly 
it thought of their understandings, never overrated 
his own, or was one of his partizans. What it 

thought of war and conquest in general may be 
gathered from another JeM-cT^^/^nY, — a jest, like many 
another jest, with laughter on its lips, and melancholy 
at heart. It was entitled. Breakfast Sympathies with 
the Miseries of War. 

Two Gentlebcen and a Ladt at Bbsaeltast. 

A. [Reading tlis newspaper, and eating at every two or three 

words."] " The combat lasted twelve hours and the two 

armies separated at nine in the evening leaving 30,000 

men literally cut to pieces ! ** (another piece of toast, if you 

please) "on the field of" Stop, 30,000 is it ? [looking at 

the paper closely J\ Egad, I believe, it's 50,000. Tom, is that 
a three or a five ? — Oh, a five. That paper's horridly printed. 

A. Very indeed. — Well, " leaving 50,000 men on the field of 
battle."— 50,000 ! — that's a great number to be killed with the 
bayonet, eh I War 's a horrid [sips'] thing. 

The Ladt. Oh, shocking I [Takes a large bit of toa^t,] 

B. Oh, monstrous! [Takes a larger.] 

A. [Reading on,] " One of the French generals of division 
riding up to the emperor with a sabre covered with blood, after 
a charge of cavalry, exclaimed," — stick your fork into that slice 
of ham for me, Tom — ^thanky'e — ** exclaimed, — There is not a 



"BBEAKFABT STMFATHIES ON WAB." 9 

man in my regiment whose sword is not like this. The two 

anni ^' 

B. What ? What was that about the sword ? 

A. Why, his own sword, you know, was covered with blood. 
Didn't you hear me read it? And so he said, There is not 
a 

B. Ay, ay — whose sword is not like this. I understand you. 
Grad, what a fellow ! 

A, [Sips,'] Oh, horrid I 

The Labt. [i8't]p«.] Oh, shocking! — Dashy get down; how 
can you be so ? 

A. The two anni— - 

B. By-the-bye, have you heard of Mrs. W.'s accident ? 

A. AND THE Labt. [^Putting doum their cupsJ] No I what can 
it be? 

A. Poor thing! her husband's half mad, I suppose. 

B. Why, she has broken her arm. 

Thb Ladt. Grood God ! I declare youVe made me quite sick. 
Poor dear Mrs. W. ! Why she '11 be obliged to wear her arm in 
a sling ! But she would go out this slippery weather, when the 
frost's enough to kill one. 

B. Well, I must go and tell my father the news. Let 's see — 
how many men killed, Charles ? 

A. 50,000. 

B. Ah,— 50,000. Good-mbming. lExit."] 

The Ladt. Poor dear Mrs. W., I can't help thinking about 
her. A broken arm ! Why, it's quite a dreadful thing ! I 
wonder whether Mrs. F. has heard the news. 

B. She'll see it in this morning's paper, you know. 

Ladt. Oh, what it's in the paper, is it ? 

B. {Laughing,'] Why, didn't you hear Charles read it just 
now? 



10 Lcrs OP iMvm. msvT. 

Las>t. Oh, that news. JTo, I aieaii poor Bfr». W. Fbit 

dear ! [tnedtiating] I wonder whether she*!! wear a blade «Uli^ 
or a b!ue.* lExeutntJ] 

1 now look upon war bs xme of the fleeting neces- 
sities of things in the course of human progress ; as 
an evil (like all other evils) to be regarded in relation 
to some other evil that would have be^i worse with- 
out it, but always to be considered as an indication 
of comparative barbarism — as a necessity, Ae pe^ 
petuity of which is not to be assumed or encouraged 
— or as a half reasoning mode of adjustment, whether 
of disputes, or of populations, which manldnd, on 
arriving at years of discretion^ and C(xning to a better 
understanding with one another, may, and must of 
seoesfiity, do away. It would be as ridiculovui to 
associate the idea of war ynth an earth covered witk 
railroads and commerce, as a fight between Holbom 
and the Strand, or between people met in a drawing- 
room. Wars, like all other evils, have not been 
without their good. They have pioneered human 
intercourse ; have thus prepared even for their own 
eventual abolition; and their follies, losses, and 
horrors have been made the best of by adornments 
and music, and consoled by the exhibition of many 
noble qualities. There is no evil unmixed with, or 

* Examiner^ vol. i. p. 748. 



CONSTITUTKMfAIiISM OF TMB ** BXAMINEB." 11 

mnprodiietiTe of good. It <)ould iiot» m the oatoxv 
of tfaiogs^ exist. Aatagoakm itself prevents it But 
nature ificites us to die dimiiiittion iof evil ; and while 
it is j^ous to make the best of what is ineyitaiblc^ 
it 18 no less so to obey the impulse wfaidi she 
1ms given us towards thinking and making it othez^ 
wise. 

With respect to the <^ai:ge of republicanism 
fkgainst the Sxaminer, it was as ridiculous as the 
rest. B<^h Napoleon and the Allies did» indeed^ 
80 conduct themselves on the high roads of empire 
and royalty, and the British sceptre was at the 
8»ne time so unfortunately wielded, that kings and 
princes were often treated with less respect in our 
pages than we desired. But we generally felt and 
often expressed a wish to treat &em otherwise. The 
JExaminer was always quoting against them the 
Alfreds and Antoninuses of old. The " Oonstitu* 
tion," with its Ejing, Lords, and Commons, was its 
incessant watchword. The greatest political change 
which it desired was Beform in Parliament ; and it 
helped to obtain it, because it was in earnest. As to 
republics, the United States, notwithstanding our 
fiimily relationdup, were no favourites with us, owing 
to their love of money and their want of the imagina* 
tive and ornamental ; and the excesses of the French 
Revolution we held in abhorrence. 

With regard to Church and Stivte, the connection 



12 LIF^ OF LEIGH HUNT. 

was of course duly recognised by admirers of the 
English constitution. We desired^ it is true, reform 
in both, being far greater admirers of Christianity 
in its primitive than in any of its subsequent shapes, 
and hearty accorders with the dictum of the apostle, 
who said that the '^letter killeth, but the spirit 
giveth life." Our version of religious faith was ever 
nearer to what M. Lamartine has called the " New 
Christianity," than to that of Doctors Horsley and 
Philpotts. But we heartily advocated the mild spirit 
of religious government, as exercised by the Church 
of England, in opposition to the bigoted part of 
dissent; and in furtherance of this advocacy, the 
first volume of the Examiner contained a series of 
Essays on tlie Folly and Danger of Methodisniy which 
were afterwards collected into a pamphlet. So 
" orthodox" were these essays, short of points from 
which common sense and humanity always appeared 
to us to revolt, and from which the deliverance 
of the Church itself is now, I believe, not far off, 
that in duty to our hope of that deliverance, I after- 
wards thought it necessary to guard against the con- 
clusions which might have been drawn from them, aa 
to the amount of our assent. A church appeared to 
me then, as it still does, an instinctive want in the 
human family. I never to this day pass one, even 
of a kind the most unreformed, without a wish to go 
into it and join my fellow-creatures in their affecting 



HELlGIOtrS VIEW9. 13 

evidence of the necessity of an additional tie with 
Deity and Infinity^ with this world and the next 
But the wish is accompanied with an afflicting regret 
that I cannot recognise it, free from barbarisms de- 
rogatory to both; and I sigh for some good old 
country church, finally delivered from the corrup«- 
tions of the Councils, and breathing nothing but 
the peace and love befitting the Sermon on the 
Mount. I believe that a time is coming, when 
such doctrine, and such only, will be preached ; and 
my future grave, by some old ivied tower, seems 
quieter for the consummation. But I anticipate. 

For a short period before and after the setting up 
of the ExamineTy I was a clerk in the War Office. 
The situation was given me by Mr. Addington, then 
prime minister, afterwards Lord Sidmouth, who knew 
my father. My sorry stock of arithmetic, which I 
taught myself on purpose, was sufficient for the 
work which I had to do; but otherwise I made a 
bad clerk ; wasting my time and that of others in 
perpetual jesting ; going too late to office ; and feeling 
conscious that if I did not quit the situation myself, 
nothing was more likely, or would have been more 
just, than a suggestion to that effisct from others. 
The establishment of the Examiner^ and the tone 
respecting the court and the ministry which I soon 
thought myself bound to adopt, increased the sense 
of the propriety of this measure ; and, accordingly. 



14 LIIPB. OF" LEXQSB HDS^T. 

I sent in wty resignatioit* Mr. Addii^on had fot* 
tuBfliely ceased to be minkter before tlie Examiser 
was set up ; and though I had occa^cm afterwardb to 
£ffer extremelj with the measures approved of h^y 
him as Lord Sidmouth, I never forgot the peidonal 
respect which I owed him for his kindnesi to myself 
to his owB^ amiable manners^ and to his imdoubte^ 
though not wise^ conscientiousiiess. He bad been 
Speaker of the House of Commons^ a situatioft for 
which his figure and deportment at that time of life 
admirably firtted himw I tUink I hear his fine Yoice^ 
in his house at Eichmoad Park, good-natturedly ex* 
pressing to me his hope, iit the words of the poet> 
that it might one day be said of me, — 

" — Not in fancy's maze he wander'd long, 
But stoop*d to truth, and moraHz'd his song.** 

The sounding words, ^^ moralized his song," ca^ne 
tomng out of his dignified utterance like ^' sonorous 
metal." This was when I went to thank him for the 
clerkship. I afterwards> sat on the grass in the park, 
feeling as if I was in a dream, and wondering how I 
should reconcile my propen^ty to verse-making with 
sums in addition. The minister, it was clear, 
thought them not incompatible : nor are they. Let 
nobody think otherwise, unless he is prepared to 
suffer for the mistake^ and what 'm worse, to make 
others^ suffer. The body of the: British Poel» them* 



oskeei sfaaB confiite him, -mth Chavcer at their head, 
wfaa was a ^oon^tfoUer of wm^oI'^ and ^' clerk of 

**Th(m hearest neitfter that nor thisj 
(says the eagle to him in the House of Fame) ; — 

For when thy lahour all done is, 
And hast made all thy reckonings,. 
Instead of rest and of new things, 
Thou goest home to thine house anon, 
And all so dumh as any stone 
Thou sittest at another hook, 
Till fuUy daz^d is thy look." 

Lamb, it is true, though he stuck to it, has 
complained of 

" The dry drudgery of the desk's dead wood ; " 

and how Chaucer contrived to settle his accounts in 
the month of May, when, as he tells us, he could not 
help passing whole days in the fields, looking at the 
daisies, his biographers do not inform us. The case, 
as in all other matters, can only be vindicated, or 
otherwise, by the consequences. But that is a 
perilous responsibility; and it involves assumptions 
which ought to be startling to the modesty of young 
rhyming gentlemen not in the receipt of an income. 

I did not give up, however, a certainty for an un- 
certainty. The Examiner was fully established when 
I quitted the office. My friends thought that I 



16 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

should be better able to attend to it; and it was felt^ 
at any rate^ that I could not with propriety remain. 
So I left my fellow-clerks to their better behaviour 
and quieter rooms ; and set my face in the direction 
of stormy politics. 



DU BOIS. 17 



CHAPTER X. 

LITEBABT ACQUAINTANCE, 

Du Bois, — CamphelL — Theodore Hook, — Mathews. — James and 
Horace Smith. — FuselL — Bonnycastle — Kinnaird, ^e. 

Just after this period I fell in with a new set of 
acquaintances, accounts of whom may not be unin- 
teresting, I forget what it was that introduced me 
to Mr. Hill, proprietor of the Monthly Mirror ; but 
at his house at Sydenham I used to meet his editor, 
Du Bois ; Thomas Campbell, who was his neighbour ; 
and the two Smiths, authors of The Bejected Ad- 
dresses. I saw also Theodore Hook, and Mathews 
the comedian. Our host was a jovial bachelor, 
plump and rosy as an abbot; and no abbot could 
have presided over a more festive Sunday. The 
wine flowed merrily and long; the discourse kept 
pace with it; and next morning, in returning to 
town, we felt ourselves very thirsty. A pump by 
the road-side, with a plash round it, was a bewitch- 
ing sight. 
Du Bois was one of those wits, who, like the 

VOL. II. C 



13 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

celebrated Eachard^ have no faculty of gravity. His 
handsome hawk's eyes looked blank at a speculation ; 
but set a joke or a piece of raillery in motion^ and 
they sparkled with wit and malice. Nothing could 
be more trite or conunonplace than his serious obser- 
vations. Acquiescences they should rather have been 
called ; for he seldom ventured upon a gravity, but 
in echo of another's remark. If he did, it was in 
defence of orthodoxy, of which he was a great ad- 
vocate ; but his quips and cranks were infinite. He 
was also an excellent scholar. He, Dr. King, and 
Eachard, would have made a capital trio over a table, 
for scholarship, mirth, drinking and religion. He was 
intimate with Sir Philip Francis, and gave the public 
a new edition of the Horace of Sir Philip's father. 
The literary world knew him well also as the writer 
of a popular novel in the genuine Fielding manner, 
entitled Old Nick* 

Mr. Du Bois held his editorship of the Monthly 
Mirror yery cheap. He amused himself with writing 
notes on Athenseus, and was a lively critic on the 
theatres; but half the jokes in his magazine were 
written for his friends, and must have mystified the 
uninitiated. His notices to correspondents were 
often made up of this by-play ; and made his friends 
laugh, in proportion to their obscurity to every one 
else. Mr. Du Bois subsequently became a magis- 
trate in the Court of Requests ; and died the other 



CAMPBELL. 19 

day at an advanced age^ in spite of his love of port 
But then he was festive in good taste; no gour- 
mand; and had a strong head withal. I do not 
know whether such men ever last as long as tea- / 
totallers ; but they certainly last as long, and look 
a great deal younger, than the carking and severe. 

They who knew Mr, Campbell only as the author 
of Gertrude of Wyoming^ and the Pleasures of Hope^ 
would not have suspected him to be a merry com- 
panion, overflowing with humour and anecdote, and 
anything but fastidious. These Scotch poets have 
always something in reserve. It is the only point in 
which the major part of them resemble their coun- 
trymen. The mistaken character which the lady 
formed of Thomson from his Seasons is well known. 
He let part of the secret out in his Castle of Indo^ 
lence; and the more he let out, the more honour it 
did to the simplicity and cordiality of the poet's 
nature, though not always to the elegance of it. 
AUan Eamsay knew his friends Gay and Somerville 
as well in their writings, as he did when he came to 
be personally acquainted with them; but Allan, 
who had bustled up from a barber's shop into a book- 
seller's, was "a cimning shaver;" and nobody would 
have guessed the author of the Gentle Shepherd to 
be penurious. Let none suppose that any insinuation 
to that effect is intended against CampbelL He was 
one of the few men whom I could at any time have 

c 2 



20 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

walked half a dozen miles through the snow to spend 
an evening with; and I could -no more do this 
with a penurious man than I could with a sulky 
one. I know but of one fault he had, besides an 
extreme -cautiousness in his writings, and that one 
was national, a matter of words, and amply over- 
paid by a stream of conversation, lively, piquant, 
and liberal, not the less interesting for occarionaDy 
betraying an intimacy with pain, and for a high and 
somewhat strained tone of vmce, like a man speaking 
with susp^ided breath, and in the habit of subduing 
his feelings. No man felt more kindly towards his 
fellow-creatures, or took less credit for it. When he 
indulged in doubt and sarcasm, and spoke con- 
temptuously of things in general, he did it, partly, 
no doubt, out of actual dissatisfaction, but more 
perhaps than he suspected, out of a fear of being 
thought weak and sensitive; which is a blind that 
the best men very commonly practise. He pro- 
fessed to be hopeless and sarcastic, and took pains all 
the while to set up a university (the London). 

When I first saw this eminent person, he gave me 
the idea of a French TirgiL Not that he was like 
a Frenchman, much less the French translator of 
YirgiL I found him as handsome, as ihe Abb6 
Delille is said to have been ugly. But he seemed 
to me to embody a Frendomotan^fi ideal notion of the 
Latin poet; something a little more cut and dry 



GAMFBELL. 21 

than I had looked £Dr; compact and elegant^ critical 
and acute^ with a consciousness of authorship upon 
him; a taste over-anxious not to commit itself,, and 
refining and diminishing nature as in a drawing-room 
mirror. This fancy was strengthened in the course 
of conversation, by his expatiating on the greatness 
of !Racine. I think he had a volume of the French 
poet in his hand. His skull was sharply cut and 
fine; with plenty, according to the phrenologists, 
both of the reflective and amative organs: and 
his poetry will bear them out^ For a lettered soli- 
tude, and a bridal properly got up, both according to 
law and luxury, commend us to the lovely Gertrude 
of Wyoming^ His face and person were rather on a 
small scale; his features regular; his eye lively and 
penetrating; and when he spoke, dimples played 
about his mouth ; which, nevertheless, had something 
restrained and close in it. Some gentle puritan 
seemed to have crossed the breed, and to have left a 
stamp on his face, such as we often see in the female 
Scotch face rather than llie male. But he appeared 
not at all grateful for this; and when his critiques 
and his Virgilianism were over, very unlike a puritan 
he talked I He seemed to spite his restrictions ; and, 
out of the natural largeness of his sympathy with 
things high and low, to bveak at once out of Delille's 
Virgil into Cotton's,. like a boy let loose from school. 
When I had tiie pleasure of hearing him afterwards, 






23 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

I foi^ot his Virgilianisms, and thought only of the 
delightM companion, the unaffected philanthropist, 
and the creator of a beauty worth all the heroines in 
Bacine. 

Campbell tasted pretty sharply of the good and 
ill of the present state of society, and, for a book- 
man, had beheld strange sights. He witnessed a 
battle in Germany firom the top of a conyent (on 
which battle he has left us a noble ode); and he 
saw the French cavalry enter a town, wiping their 
bloody swords on the horses' manes. He was in 
Germany a second time, — I believe to purchase 
books; for in addition to his classical scholarship^ 
and his other languages, he was a reader of German. 
The readers there, among whom he is popular, both 
for his poetry and his love of freedom, crowded about 
him with affectionate zeal ; and they gave him, what 
he did not dislike, a good dinner. Like many of 
the great men in Germany, Schiller, Wieland, and 
others, he did not scruple to become editor of a 
magazine ; and his name alone gave it a recommen- 
dation of the greatest value, and such as made it a 
grace to write under him. 

I •remember, one day at Sydenham, Mr. Theodore 
Hook coming in unexpectedly to dinner, and amusing 
us very much with his talent at extempore verse. 
He was then a youth, taU, dark, and of a good 
person, with small eyes, and features more round 



THEODOBE HOOK. itA 

tban weak ; a face that had character and htimourj 
but no refinement. His extempoi'e verses were 
really surprising. It is easy enough to extemporize 
in Italian — one only wonders how, in a language in 
which everything conspires to render verse-making 
easy, and it is difficult to avoid rhyming, this talent 
should be so much cried up — ^but in English it is 
another matter. I have known but one other 
person besides Hook, who could extemporize in 
English ; and he wanted the confidence to do it in 
public. Of course, I speak of rhyming. Extem- 
pore blank verse, with a little practice, would be 
found as easy in English as rhyming is in Italian. 
In Hook the faculty was very unequivocal He 
could not have been aware of all the visitors, still 
less of the subject of conversation wten he came in, 
and he talked his full share tiU called upon ; yet he 
ran his jokes and his verses upon us all in the easiest 
manner, saying something characteristic of every 
body, or avoiding it with a pun ; and he introduced so 
agreeably a piece of village scandal upon which the 
party had been rallying Campbell, that the poet, 
though not unjealous of his dignity, was, perhaps, 
the most pleased of us all. Theodore afterwards 
sat down to the pianoforte, and enlarging upon this 
snbject, made an extempore parody of a modem 
opera, introducing sailors and their clap-traps, rus- 
tics, &c., and making the poet and his supposed 



24 LIFE OF LEIGH H.UNT. 

flame^ the hero and heroine^ He parodied music as 
well as words, giving us the most received cadences 
and flourishes, and calling to mind (not without some 
hazard to his filial duties) the commonplaces of the 
pastoral songs and duets- of the last half century; 
80 that if Mr. Dignum, the Damon of Vauxhall, had 
been present, h^ would have doubted whether to take 
it as an affront or a compliment. Campbell certainly 
took the theme of the parody as a compliment ; for 
having drank a little more wine than usual that 
evening, and happening to wear a wig on account of 
haying lost his hsdr by a feyer, he suddenly took oif 
the wig, and dashed it at the head of the performer, 
exclaiming, "You dogl I'll throw my laurels at 
you." 

I have since been unable to help wishing, perhaps 
not very wisely, that Campbell would have been a 
little less careful and fastidious in what he did for the 
public ; for, after all, an author may reasonably be 
supposed to do best that which he is most inclined to 
do. It is our business to be grateful for what a 
poet sets before us, rather than to be wishing that 
his peaches were nectarines, or his Falernian cham- 
pagne. Campbell, as an author, was all for refine- 
ment and classicality, not, however, without a great 
deal of pathos and luxurious fancy. His merry 
jongleur 9 Theodore Hook, had as little propensity, per-, 
haps, as can be imagined, to any of those niceties : yet 



MATHBW8. 25 

in the pleasure of recollecting tlie eyening which I 
passed with him,. I wa9 unable to repress a wish, as 
Mttle wise as the other ; to- wit, that he had stuck to 
his humours and farces, for which he had real talent, 
instead of writing politics. - There was ability in the 
noTek which he subsequently wrote; but their 
worship of high life, and attacks on vulgarity, were 
themselves of the vulgarest description. 

Mathews, the comedian, I had the pleasure of 
seeing at Mr. Hill's several times, and of witnessing 
his invitations, which, admirable as they were on the 
stage, were still more so in private. His wife occa- 
sionally came with him, with her handsome eyes> and 
charitably made tea for us. Many years afterwards 
I had the pleasure of sedng them at their own 
table ; and I thought that while Time, with unusual 
courtesy, had spared the sweet countenance of the 
lady, he had given more force and interest to that of 
the husband in the very ploughing of it up. Strong 
lines had been cut, and the face stood them well. I 
had seldom been more surprised than on coming close 
to Mathews on that occasion^ and seeing the bust 
which he possessed in his gallery of his friend Liston. 
Some of these comic actors, like comic writers, are 
as unfarcical as can be imagined in their interior. 
The taste for humour comes to them by the force of 
contrast. The last time I had seen Mathews, his. 
face appeared to me insignificant to what it was 



26 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

then. On the former occasion, he looked like an 
irritable in-door pet : on the latter, he seemed to have 
been grappling with the world, and to have got 
vigoor by it. His face had looked out npon the 
Atlantic, and said to the old waves, ^^ Buffet on ; I 
have seen trouble as well as you." The paralytic 
affection, or whatever it was, that twisted his mouth 
when young, had formerly appeared to be master of 
his face, and given it a character of indecision and 
alarm. It now seemed a minor thing ; a twist in a 
piece of old oak. And what a bust was Liston's f 
The mouth and chin, with the throat under it, hung 
like an old bag ; but the upper part of the head was 
as fine as possible. There was a speculation, a look- 
out, and even an elevation of character in it, as un- 
like the Listen on the stage, as Lear is to King 
Pippin. One might imagine Laberius to have had 
such a face. 

The reasons why Mathews's imitations were still 
better in private than in public were, that he was 
more at his ease personally, more secure of his 
audience (** fit though few "), and able to interest 
them with traits of private character, which could 
not have been introduced on the stage. He gave, 
for instance, to persons who he thought could take 
it rightly, a picture of the manners and conversa- 
tion of Sir "Walter Scott, h%hly creditable to that 
celebrated person, and calculated to add regard to 



MATHEWS. 27 

admiration. His commonest imitations were not 
superficiaL Something of the mind and character 
of the individual was always insinuated^ often with 
a dramatic dressing, and plenty of sauce piquante. 
At Sydenham he used to give us a dialogue among 
the actors, each of whom found fault with another 
for some defect or excess of his own. — Kemble 
objecting to stifihess, Munden to grimace, and so 
on. His representation of Indedon was extraor- 
dinary: his nose seemed actually to become aqui- 
line* It is a pity I cannot put upon paper, as re- 
presented by Mr. Mathews, the singukr gabblings 
of that actor, the lax and sailor-like twist of mind, 
with which everything hung upon him; and his 
profane pieties in quoting the Bible ; for which, and 
swearing, he seemed to have an equal reverence. 
He appeared to be charitable to everybody but 
Braham. He would be described as saying to his 
friend Holman, for instance, '* My dear George, 
don't be abusive, George; — don't insult, — don't be 
indecent, by G— dl You should take the beam 
out of your own eye, — what the devil is it? you 
know, in the Bible ; something " (the a very broad) 
** about a beam, my dear George 1 and — and — ^and 
a mote ; — ^youll find it in any part of the Bible ; yes, 
George, my dear boy, the Bible, by G — d;" (and 
then with real fervour and reverence) " the Holy 
Scripture, G — d d — ^me I " He swore as dreadfully 



28 LIFE OF LSIGH HUNT. 

as a devout knight-errant. Braham^ whose trumpet 
blew down his wooden walls, he oould not endure. 
He is represented as saying one day, with a strange 
mixture of imagination and matter-of-fact, that "he 
only wished his beloved master, Mr. Jackson, could 
come down from heaven, and take the Exeter stage 
to London, to hear that d— d Jew l^ 

As Hook made extempore verses on us, so 
Mathews one day gave an extempore imitation of 
us all round, with the exception of a young theatri- 
cal critic (videlicet, myself )> in whose appearance 
and manner he pronounced that there was no handle 
for mimicry. This, in all probability, was intended - 
as a politeness towards a comparative stranger, but 
it might have been policy; and the laughter was 
not missed by it. /At all events, the critic was 
both good-humoured enough, and at that time self- 
aatisfied enough, to have borne the mimicry; and no 
harm would have come, of it. / 

One morning, after stopping all night at this 
pleasant house, I was getting up to breakfast, when 
I heard the noise of a little boy having his face 
washed. ( Our host was a merry bachelor, and to the 
rosiness of a priest might,, for aught I knew, have 
added the paternity; but I hadj never heard of it, ^ 
and stiU lesa expected to find a. child in his house. 
More obvious and obstreperous proofs, however^ oi^ 
the existenciB of a boy with a dirty, face, could not 



MATH£WS. 29 

have been met with. ( You heard the child crying 
and objecting; then the woman remonstrating ; then 
the cries of the child snubbed and swallowed up 
in the hard towel; and at intervals out came his 
voice bubbling and deplorii^, and was again swal- 
lowed upJ At breakfast^ the child being pitied^ I 
ventured to speak about it^ and was laughing and 
sympathizing in perfect good faith, when Mathews 
came in, and I found that the little urchin was he. / 
The same morning he gave us his immortal imi- 
tation of old Tate Wilkinson, patentee of the York 
Theatre. Tate had been a little too merry in his 
youth, and was very melancholy in old age. He had 
a wandering mind and a decrepit body ; and being 
manager of a theatre, a husband, and a ratcatcher, 
he would speak, in his wanderings, ** variety of 
wretchedness." He would interweave, for instance, 
all at once, the subjects of a new engagement at 
his theatre, the rats, a veal-pie, Garrick and Mrs. 
Siddons, and Mrs. Tate and the doctor. I do not 
pretend to give a specimen: Mathews alone could 
have done it ; but one trait I recollect, descriptive 
of Tate himself, which will give a good notion of 
him. On coming into the room, Mathews assumed 
the old manager's appearance, and proceeded to- 
wards the window, to recoimoitre the state of the 
weather, which was a matter of great importance 
to him. His hat was like a hat worn the wrong 



30 LIFE OF LEIOH HUNT. 

WB,j, side foremost^ looking sadly crinkled and old ; 
his mouth was desponding, his eye staring, and his 
whole aspect meagre, querulou£f, and prepared for 
objection. This miserable object, grunting and hob* 
bling, aad helping himself with everything he can lay 
hold of as he goes, creeps up to the window ; and, 
giving a glance at the clouds, turns round with an 
ineffable look of despair and acquiescence, ejacu- 
lating " C% Christ!" 

Of James Smith, a fair, stout, firesh-K^oloured man 
with round features, I recollect little, except that he 
used to read to us trim verses, with rhymes as pat 
as butter. The best of his verses are in the Refected 
Addresses; and they are excellent. Isaac Hawkins 
Browne with his Pipe of Tobacco, and all the rhyming 
jeux^ esprit in aU the Tracts, are extinguished in the 
comparison; not excepting the Probationary Odes. 
Mr. Fitzgerald found himself bankrupt in non sequi- 
turs; Crabbe could hardly have known which was 
which, himself or his parodist ; and Lord Byron 
confessed to me, that the summing up of his philo- 
sophy, to-wit, that 

'* Nought is everything, and everything is nought," 

was very posing. Mr. Smith would sometimes re- 
peat after dinner, with his brother Horace, an ima- 
ginary dialogue, stuffed Aill of incongruities, that 
made us roll with laughter. His ordinary verse and 



JAHB& AND HOBAGE SMITH. 31 

prose were too full of the ridicije of city pretensions. 
To be superior to anything, it should not always be 
running in one's head. 

His brother Horace was delicious. / J^ord Byron -^ 
(sed to say, that this epithet should be applied only 
to eatables ; and that he wondered a friend of his 
(I forget who) that was critical in matters of eating, 
should use it in any other sense. I know not what 
the present usage may be in the circles, but classi- 
cal authority is against his lordship, from Cicero 
downwards ; and I am content with the modern 
warrant of another noble wit, the famous Lord 
Peterborough, who, in his fine, open way, said of 
Fenelon, that he was such a '* delicious creature, 
he was forced to get away from him, else he 
would have made him pious 1" I grant there is 
something in the word delicious which may be said 
to comprise a reference to every species of pleasant 
taste. It is at once a quintessence and a compound ; 
and a friend, to deserve the epithet, ought, perhaps, 
to be capable of delighting us as much over our 
wine, as on graver occasions. Fenelon himself could 
do this, with all his piety ; or rather he could do it 
because his piety was of the true sort, and relished 
of everything that was sweet and affectionate. A 
finer nature than Horace Smith's, except in the 
single instance of SheUey, I never met with in man ; 
nor even in that instance, all circumstances con- 



32 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

sidered, have I a right to say that those who knew 
liiiTi as intimately as I did the other, would not have 
had the same reasons to love him. Shelley himself 
had the highest regard for Horace Smith, as may be 
seen by the following verses, the initials in which 
the reader has here the pleasure of filling up : — 

" Wit and sense, 
Virtue and human knowledge, all that might 
Make this dull world a business of delight, 
Are all combined in H. S.** 

Horace Smith differed with Shelley on some points ; 
but on others, which ail the world agree to praise 
highly and to practise very little, he agreed so entirely, 
and showed unequivocally that he did agree, that with 
the exception of one person (Vincent NoveUo), too 
diffident to gain such an honour from bis friends, they 
were the only two men I had then met with, from 
whom I could have received and did receive advice or 
remonstrance with perfect comfort, because I could 
be sure of the unmixed motives and entire absence of 
self-reflection, with which it would come from them.* 
SheUey said to me once, " I know not what Horace 



* Notwithstanding his caprices of temper, I must add Hazlitt, 
who was quite capable, when he chose, of giving genuine advice, 
and making you sensible of his disinterestedness. Lamb could 
have done it, too ; but for interference of any sort he had an 
abhorrence. 



JAMES AND HOBACE SMITH. 33 

Smith must take me for sometimes : I am afraid he 
must think me a strange fellow : but is it not odd, 
that the only truly generous person I ever knew, 
who had money to be generous with, should be a 
stockbroker 1 And he writes poetry too," continued 
Shelley, his voice rising in a fervour of astonish- 
ment ; ^^ he writes poetry and pastoral dramas, and 
yet knows how to make money, and does make it, 
and is still generous!" Shelley had reason to like 
him, Horace Smith was one of the few men, who, 
through a cloud of detraction, and through all that 
difference of conduct from the rest of the world, 
which naturally excites obloquy, discerned the great- 
ness of my friend's character. Indeed, he became 
a witness to a very unequivocal proof of it, which 
I shall mention by-and-by. The mutual esteem 
was accordingly very great, and arose from circum- 
stances most honourable to both parties. ** I be- 
lieve," said Shelley on another occasion, *^ that I 
have only to say to Horace Smith that I want a 
hundred pounds or two, and he would send it me 
without any eye to its being returned; such faith 
has he that I have something within me beyond 
what the world supposes, and that I could only ask 
his money for a good purpose." And Shelley would 
have sent for it accordingly, if the person for whom 
it was intended had not said Nay. I will now men- 
tion the circumstance which first gave my friend a 

VOL. !!• J> 



34 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

regard for Horace Smith. It concerns the person just 

mentioned^ who is a man of letters. It came to Mr. 

Smith's knowledge^ many years ago, that this person 

was suffering under a pecuniary trouble. He knew 

little of him at the time, but had met him occasionally ; 

and he availed himself of this circumstance to write 

him a letter as full of delicacy and cordiality as it 

could hold, making it a matter of grace to accept a 

bank-note of lOOL which he enclosed. I speak on the 

best authority, that of the obliged person himself; 

who adds that he not only did accept the money, 

but felt as light and happy under the obligation, as 

he has felt miserable under the very report of being 

obliged to some; and he says, that nothing could 

induce him to withhold his name, but a reason^ 

which the generous, during hia life-time, would 

think becoming. 

I have said that Horace Smith was a stockbroker. 
He left business with a fortune, and went to live in 
France, where, if he did not increase, he did not 
seriously diminish it ; and France added to the plea- 
sant stock of his knowledge. 

On returning to England, he set about exerting 
himself in a manner equally creditable to his talents 
and interesting to the public* I would not insult 
either the modesty or the understanding of my friend 
while he was alive, by comparing him with the author 
of OH MartaMty and Guy Marmering : but I ven- 



JAMES AND HORACE SMITH. 35 

tured to say^ and I repeat^ that the earliest of his 
novels^ Brambletye HotLse^ ran a hard race with the 
novel of Woodstock^ and that it contained more than 
one charaxjter not unworthy of the best volumes of 
Sir Walter- I allude to the ghastly troubles of the 
Begicide in his lone house ; the outward phlegm 
and merry inward malice of Winky Boss (a happy 
name), who gravely smoked a pipe with his mouth, 
and laughed with his eyes ; and, above all, to the 
character of the princely Dutch merchant, who 
would cry out that he should be ruined, at seeing a 
few nutmegs dropped from a bag, and then go and 
give a thousand ducats for an antique. This is 
hitting the high mercantile character to a nicety, — 
minute and careful in its means, princely in its 
ends. If the ultimate effect of commerce {permuUi 
transibuntf &c.) were not something very different 
from what its pursuers imagine, the character would 
be a dangerous one to society at large, because it 
throws a gloss over the spirit of money-getting ; but, 
meanwhile, nobody could paint it better, or has a 
greater right to recommend it, than he who has been 
the first to make it a handsome portrait. 

The personal appearance of Horace Smith, like 
that of most of the individuals I have met with, was 
highly indicative of his character. His figure was 
good and manly, inclining to the robust; and his 
countenance extremely frank and cordial; sweet 

J> 2 



36 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

without weakness. I have been told he was irascible. 
If so, it must have been no common offence that 
could have irritated him. He had not a jot of it in 
his appearance. 

Another set of acquaintances which I made at 
this time used to assemble at the hospitable table of 
Mr. Hunter the bookseller, in St. Paul's Church- 
yard. They were the survivors of the literary party 
that were accustomed to dine with his predecessor, 
Mr. Johnson. They came, as of old, on the Friday. 
The most regular were Fuseli and Bonnycastle. 
Now and then, Godwin was present: oftener Mr. 
Kinnaird the magistrate, a great lover of Horace. 

Fuseli was a small man, with energetic features, 
and a white head of hair. Our host's daughter, 
then a little girl, used to call him the white-headed 
lion. He combed his hair up from the forehead; and 
as his whiskers were large, his face was set in a kind 
of hairy frame, which, in addition to the fierceness of 
his look, really gave him an aspect of that sort. 
Otherwise, his features were rather sharp than round. 
He would have looked much like an old military 
officer, if his face, besides its real energy, had not 
affected more. There was the same defect in it as 
in his pictures. Conscious of not having all the 
strength he wished, he endeavoured to make out for 
it by violence and pretension. He carried this so 
far, as to look fiercer than usual when he sat for his 



FUSELI. 37 

picture. His friend and engraver, Mr. Houghton, 
drew an admirable likeness of him in this state of 
dignified extravagance. He is sitting back in his 
chair, leaning on his hand, but looking ready to 
pounce withaL His notion of repose was like that 
of Pistol : 

** Now, Pistol, lay thy head in Furies' lap." 

Agreeably to this over-wrought manner, he was 
reckoned, I believe, not quite so bold as he might 
have been. He painted horrible pictures, as children 
tell horrible stories ; and was frightened at his own 
lay-figures. Yet he would hardly have talked as he 
did about his terrors, had he been as timid as some 
supposed him. With the affected, impression is the 
main thing, let it be produced how it may. A 
student of the Academy told me, that Mr. Fuseli 
coming in one night, when a solitary candle had been 
put on the floor in a comer of the room, to produce 
some effect or other, he said it looked ''like a damned 
soul." This was by way of being Dantesque, as 
Michael Angelo was. Fuseli was an ingenious cari- 
caturist of that master, making great bodily displays 
of mental energy, and being ostentatious with his 
limbs and muscles, in proportion as he could not draw 
them* A leg or an arm was to be thrust down one's 
throat, because he knew we should dispute the truth 
of it* In the indulgence of this wilfulness of pur** 



38 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

pose^ generated partly by impatience of study, partly 
by want of sufficient genius, and no doubt^ also, by a 
sense of superiority to artists who could do nothing 
but draw correctly, he cared for no time, place, or 
circumstance, in his pictures. A set of prints, after 
his designs, for Shakspeare and Cowper, exhibit a 
chaos of mingled genius and absurdity, such as, 
perhaps, was never before seen. He endeavoured to 
bring Michael Angelo's apostles and prophets, with 
their superhuman ponderousness of intention, into 
the common -places of modem life. A student 
reading in a garden, is all over intensity of muscle ; 
and the quiet tea-table scene in Cowper, he has 
turned into a preposterous conspiracy of huge men 
and women, all bent on showing their thews and 
postures, with dresses as fantastical as their minds. 
One gentleman, of the existence of whose trousers 
you are not aware till you see the terminating line 
at the ankle, is sitting and looking grim on a 80&, 
with his hat on and no waistcoat. Yet there is real 
genius in his designs for Milton, though disturbed, 
as usual, by strainings after the energetic His most 
extraordinary mistake, after all, is said to have been 
on the subject of his colouring. It was a sort of livid 
green, like brass diseased. Yet they say, that when 
praised for one of his pictures, he would modestly 
observe, " It is a pretty colour." This might have 
been thought a jest on his part, if remarkable stories 



FUSELI. 39 

were not told of the mUtakes made hj other people 
with regard to colour. Sight seems the least agreed 
upon, of all the senses. 

Fuseli was lively and interesting in conversation, 
but not without his usual faults of violence and pre- 
tension. Nor was he always as decorous as an old 
man ought to be ; especially one whose turn of mind 
is not of the lighter and more pleasurable cast. The 
licences he took were coarse, and had not sufficient 
regard to his company. Certainly they went a great 
deal beyond his friend Armstrong; to whose ac- 
count, I believe, Fuseli's passion for swearing was 
laid. The poet condescended to be a great swearer, 
and Fuseli thought it energetic to swear like him. 
His friendship with Bonnycastle had something child- 
like and agreeable in it. They came and went away 
together, for years, like a couple of old schoolboys. 
They, also, like boys, rallied one another, and some- 
times made a singular display of it, — Fuseli, at least ; 
for it was he that was the aggressor. I remember, 
one day, Bonnycastle told a story of a Frenchman, 
whom he had received at his house at Woolwich, 
and who invited him, in return, to visit him in Paris, 
if ever he should cross the water. ** The Frenchman 
told me," said he, ^' that he had a superb local When 
I went to Paris I called on him, and found he had a 
good prospect out of his window ; but his superb local 
was at a hair-dresser's, up two pair of stairs." 



40 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

" Veil, veil I" said Fuseli, Impatiently (for, though 
he spoke and wrote English remarkably well, he 
never got rid of his Swiss pronunciation), — ** Veil — 
vay not ? vay not ? Vat is to hinder his local being 
superb for all thtatf^ 

*' I don't see," returned Bonnycastle, ^^ how a bar- 
ber's house in an alley can be a superb local." 

** You doan't ! Veil — ^but thtat is not the barber's 
fault — It is yours." 

** How do you make that out ? I 'm not an alley." 

*' No ; but you 're coarsedly eegnorant." 

** I may be as ignorant as you are polite ; but you 
don't prove anything." 

*^ Thte thtevil I doant I Did you not say he had 
a faine prospect out of window ?" 

"Yes, he had a prospect fine enough!" 

** Veil, thtat constituted his superb locaL A su- 
perb local is not a barber's shop, by Goade I but a 
faine situation. But thtat is your coarsed eegno- 
rance of thte language." 

Another time, on Bonnycastle's saying that there 
were no longer any auto-^-fisy Fuseli said he did 
not know that. *^ At all events," said he, if you 
were to go into Spain, they would have an auto-da-J'i 
immediately, oan thte strength of your appearance." 

Bonnycastle was a good fellow. He was a tall, 
gaunt, long-headed man, with large features and 
spectacles, and a deep internal voice, with a twang 



BONNTCASTLE. 41 

of rusticity in it ; and he goggled over his plate, 
like a horse. I often thought that a bag of com 
would have hung well on him. His laugh was 
equine, and showed his teeth upwards at the sides* 
Wordsworth, who notices similar mysterious mani- 
festations on the part of donkeys, would have thought 
it ominous. Bonnycastle was passionately fond of 
quoting Shakspeare. and telling stories ; and if the 
Edinburgh Review had just come out, would give us 
all the jokes in it. He had once an hypochondriacal 
disorder of long duration; and he told us, that 
he should never forget the comfortable sensa- 
tion given him one night during this disorder, by 
his knocking a landlord, that was insolent to him, 
down the man's staircase. On the strength of this 
piece of energy (having first ascertained that the 
offender was not killed) he went to bed, and had a 
sleep of unusual soundness. Perhaps Bonnycastle 
thought more highly of his talents than the amount 
of them strictly warranted ; a mistake to which scien- 
tific men appear to be more liable than others, the 
universe they work in being so large, and their 
imiversality (in Bacon's sense of the word) being 
often so small. But the delusion was not only 
pardonable, but desirable, in a man so zealous in the 
performance of his duties, and so much of a human 
being to all about him, as Bonnycastle was. It was 
delightftd one day to hear him speak with compla* 



42 LIFE OF LEIQH HUNT. 

cency of a translation which had appeared of one of 
his books in Arabic^ and which began by sayings on 
the part of the translator, that ** it had pleased God, 
for the advancement of human knowledge, to raise 
us up a Bonnycastle." Some of his stories were a 
little romantic, and no less authentic. He had an 
anecdote of a Scotchman, who boasted of being 
descended from the Admirable Crichton ; in proof 
of which, the Scotchman said he had ** a grit quan- 
tity of table-leenen in his possassion, marked A. C, 
Admirable Creechton." 

Kinnaird, the magistrate, was a stout sanguine 
man, under the middle height, with a fine lamping 
black eye, lively to the last, and a person that ^^had 
increased, was increasing, and ought to have been 
diminished f which is by no means what he thought 
of the prerogative. Next to his bottle he was fond 
of his Horace ; and, in the intervals of business at 
the police-office, would enjoy both in his arm-chair. 
Between the vulgar calls of this kind of magistracy, 
and the perusal of the urbane Horace, there must 
have been a gusto of contradiction, which the bottle, 
perhaps, was required to render quite palateable. 
Fielding did not love his bottle the less for being 
obliged to lecture the drunken. Nor did his son, who 
succeeded him in taste and office. I know not how 
a former poet-laureat, Mr. Pye, managed ; — another 
man of letters, who was fain to accept a situation 



KINKAIRD. 43 

of this kind. Having been a man of fortune and a 
member of Parliament, and loving his Horace to boot, 
he could hardly have done without his wine. I saw 
him once in a state of scornful indignation at being 
interrupted in the perusal of a manuscript by the 
monitions of his police-officers, who were obliged 
to remind him over and over again that he was a 
magistrate, and that the criminal multitude were 
in waiting. Every time the door opened, he threat- 
ened and he implored. 

'* Otium divos rogat in patent! 
Prensus." 

Had you quoted this to Mr. Kinnaird, his eyes 
would have sparkled with good-fellowship : he would * 
have finished the verse and the bottle with you, and 
proceeded to as many more as your head could stand. 
Poor fellow I the last time I saw him, he was an 
apparition formidably substantial The door of our 
host's dining-room opened without my hearing it, 
and, happening to turn round, I saw a figure in 
a great coat, literally almost as broad as it was long, 
and scarcely able to articulate. He was dying of 
a dropsy, and was obliged to revive himself^ before 
he was fit to converse, by the wine that was killing 
him. But he had cares besides, and cares of no 
ordinary description; and, for my part, I will not 
blame even his wine for killing him, unless his cares 



44 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

could have done it more agreeably. After dinner 
that dajy he was comparatively himself again^ quoted 
his Horace as usual, talked of lords and courts with 
a relish, and begged that God save the King might 
be played to him on the pianoforte; to which he 
listened, as if his soul had taken its hat off. I believe 
he would have liked to die to God save the Kingy 
and to have " waked and found those visions true." 



PITT AND FOX. 45 



CHAPTER XL 

POLITICAL CHARACTERS. 

Ministry of the Pittites, — Timeserving conduct of the Allies.'— 
Height and dovmfall of Napoleon. — Character of George the 
Third, — Mistakes and sincerity qf the Examiner. — Indictment 
against it respecting the case of Major Hogan, — Affair of Mrs, 
Clarke, — Indictment respecting the reign of George the Third, — 
Perry, proprietor of the Morning Chronicle. — Characters of 
Lord Canning^ Liverpool, and Lord Castlereagh, — Whigs and 
Whig-Radicals, — Queen Victoria, — Boyalty and Bepublics, — 
Indictment respecting military flogging j— The Attorney General^ 
Sir Vicary Gibbs^ 

The Examiner had been set up towards the close of 
the reign of George the Third, three years before 
the appointment of the regency. Pitt and Fox had 
died two years before; the one, in middle life, of 
constant ill-success, preying on a sincere but proud, 
and not very large mind, and unwisely supported by 
a habit of drinking; the other, of older but more 
genial habits of a like sort, and of demands beyond 
his strength by a sudden accession to office. The 
king — a conscientious but narrow-minded man, ob* 



46 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

stinate to a degree of disease (wUch had lost him 
America), and not always dealing ingenuously, even 
with his advisers — had lately got rid of Mr. Fox's 
successors, on account of their urging the Catholic 
claims. He had summoned to office in their stead 
Lords Castlereagh, Liverpool, and others, who had 
been the clerks of Mr. Pitt ; and Bonaparte was at 
the height of his power as French Emperor, setting 
his brothers on thrones, and compelling our Kussian 
and German allies to side with him under the most 
mortifying circumstances of tergiversation. 

It is a melancholy period for the potentates of the 
earth, when they fancy themselves obliged to resort 
to the shabbiest measures of the feeble; siding 
against a friend with his enemy; joining in accu- 
sations against him at the latter's dictation ; believed 
by nobody on either side ; returning to the friend, 
and retreating from him, according to the fortunes 
of war; secretly hoping, that the friend will excuse 
them by reason of the pauper's plea, necessity ; and 
at no time able to give better apologies for their 
conduct than those " mysterious ordinations of Pro- 
vidence," which are the last refuge of the destitute 
in morals, and a reference to which they contemp- 
tuously deny to the thief and the ** ting's evidence." 
It proves to them, ** with a vengeance," the ** some- 
thing rotten in the state of Denmark;" and will 
continue to prove it, and to be despicable, whether 



BONAPARTE AND OUR ALLIES. 47 

in bad or good fortune, till the world find out a cure 
for the rottenness. 

Yet this is what the allies of England were in the 
habit of doiug^ through the whole contest of England 
with France. When England succeeded in getting 
up a coalition against Napoleon^ they denounced 
him for his ambition^ and set out to fight him. 
When the coalition was broken by his armies, they 
turned round at his bidding, denounced England, 
and joined him in fighting against their ally. And 
this was the round of their history : a coalition and 
a tergiversation alternately; now a speech and a 
fight against Bonaparte, who beat them ; then a 
speech and a fight against England, who bought 
them off; then, again, a speech and a fight against 
Bonaparte, who beat them again; and then, as 
before, a speech and a fight against England, who 
again bought them off. Meanwhile, they took every- 
thmg they could get, whether from enemy or friend, 
seizing with no less greediness whatever bits of terri- 
tory Bonaparte threw to them for their meanness^ 
than pocketing the millions of Pitt, for which we are 
paying to this day. 

It becomes us to bow, and to bow humbly, to the 
*^ mysterious dispensations of Providence ;" but in 
furtherance of those very dispensations, it has 
pleased Providence so to constitute us, as to render 
us incapable of admiring such conduct, whether in 



48 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

king's evidences or in tings; and some of the 
meanest figures that present themselves to the 
imagination in looking back on the events of those 
times^ are the Emperors of Austria and Russia^ and 
the King of Prussia. It is salutary to bear this in 
mind^ for the sake of royalty itself. What has since 
ruined Louis Philippe, in spite of all his ability, is 
his confounding royal privileges with base ones, and 
his not keeping his word as a gentleman. 

If it be still asked, what are kings to do under 
such circumstances as those in which they were 
placed with Bonaparte? what is their alternative? 
it is to be replied, firstly, that the question has been 
answered already, by the mode in which the charge is 
put ; and, secondly, that whatever they do, they must 
either cease to act basely, and like the meanest of 
mankind, or be content to be regarded as such, and 
to leave such stains on their order as tend to produce 
its downfall, and to exasperate the world into the 
creation of republics. Republics, in the first in- 
stance, are never desired for their own sakes. I do 
not think they will be finally desired at all ; certainly 
not unaccompanied by courtly graces and good 
breeding, and whatever can tend to secure to them 
ornament as well as utility. I do not think it 
is in human nature to be content with a different 
settlement of the old question, any more than it is in 
nature physical to dispense with her pomp of flowers 



SUPREMACY or NAPOLEON. 49 

and colours. But sure I am, that the first cravings 
for republics always originate in some despair created 
by the conduct of kings. 

It might be amusing to bring together a few of 
the exordiums of those same speeches, or state 
papers, of the allies of George the Third ; but I 
have not time to look for them ; and perhaps they 
would prove tiresome. It is more interesting to con- 
sider the "state" which Bonaparte kgpt in those 
days, and to compare it with his exile in St. Helena. 
There are more persons, perhaps, in the present 
generation who think of Bonaparte as the captive of 
Great Britain, defeated by Wellington, than as the 
maker of kings and queens, reigning in Paris, and 
bringing monarchs about his footstooL The follow- 
ing is the figure he used to make in the French 
newspapers at the time when the Examiner was 
set up. 

NAPOLEOlSr AND RUSSIA. 

«* Tikit, June 25, 1807. 

*' This day at one o^clock, the Emperor, accompanied by the 
Grand Duke of Beog, the Prince of Neufch&tel, Marshal Bei- 
neres, the Grand Marshal of the Palace Duroc, and the Grand 
£query Caulaincourt, embarked on the banks of the Kiemen, 
in a boat prepared for the purpose. They proceeded to the 
middle of the river, where General Lariboissiere, commanding 
the artillery of the guard, had caused a raft to be placed, and a 
payilion erected upon it. Close by it was another raft and 
pavilion for their majesty^s suite. At the same moment the 

VOL. II. E 



50 LirE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

Emperor Alexander set out from the right bank, accompanied 
by the Grand Duke Constantine, General Beningsen, General 
Ouvaroff, Prince Labanoff, and his principal aide-de-camp, 
Count Lieyen. The two boats arrived at the same instant, and 
the two emperors embraced each other as soon as they set foot 
on the raft. They entered together the saloon which was pre- 
pared for them, and remained there during two hours. The 
conference having been concluded, the persons composing the 
suite of the two emperors were introduced. The Emperor 
Alexander paid the handsomest compliments to the officers who 
accompanied the Emperor, who, on his part, had a long con- 
versation with the Grand Duke Constantine and General Ben- 
ingsen." 

[Note.— That the compliments to officers are all paid by the 
vanquished man, the Emperor of Russia.] 

NAPOLEON AND AUSTRIA. 

" Paris, April 4, 1810. 

^^ The civil marriage of his majesty, the emperor and king 
with the Archduchess of Austria, took place at St. Cloud, on 
the 1st instant, and the public entry into Paris, and the reli- 
gious ceremony, the next day. Previously to the public entry, 
the weather httd been very unpropitious, but on the firing of 
the cannon the clouds dispersed, and a serene sky and brilliant 

* 

sunshine enabled the Parisians to enjoy the pageantry, illu- 
minations, &c. &c., which continued during the whole week. 
At the civil marriage ceremony, their imperial majesties having 
taken their seats on the throne^ the princes and princesses ranged 
themselves in the following order : — 

" To the right of the Emperor, Madame ; Prince Louis Na- 
poleon, King of Holland ; Prince Jerome Napoleon, King of 



EXTINCTION OP NAPOLEON. 51 

Westphalia ; Prince Borghese, Duke of Guastalla ; Prince 
Joachim Napoleon, King of Naples ; Prince Eugene, Viceroy 
of Italy ; the Prince Archchancellor ; the Prince Vice Grand 
Elector. To the left of the empress, the Princess Julia, Queen 
of Spain; the Princess Hortense, Queen of Holland; the 
Princess Catharine, Queen of Westphalia ; the Princess Eliza, 
Grand Duchess of Tuscany ; the Princess Pauline ; the Princess 
Caroline, Queen of Naples ; the Grand Duke of Wurtzburg ; 
the Princess Augusta, Vice- Queen of Italy ; the Princess Ste- 
phanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Baden ; the Prince Arch- 
Treasurer ; the Prince Vice-Constable^ &c. &c." 

Look on those pictures, and on the following : — 

" St. Helena, December 17, 1820. 

" It is a great crime here to call Bonaparte Emperor. 

"He appears very unhappy. The goyemor will haye no 
communication with Bertrand, and Bonaparte will not receive 
any except through him. This system of vexation is said to 
amioy him considerably; and combined with the other measures 
adopted towards him and his followers, tends to keep his mind 

in a state of continual irritation.** 

" May 15, 1821. 

" Bonaparte died (on the 5th instant) after an illness of six 
weeks. He must have suffered great pain, though no complaint 
was uttered. For several days previous to his death, he had 
his son*s bust placed at the foot of his bed, and constantly kept 
his eyes fixed upon it, till he breathed his last.** 

But the fortunes of Napoleon were on the decline, 
when they appeared to be at their height. The year 
1808 beheld at once their culmination and their de- 

E 2 



52 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

scent ; and it was the feeblest of his vassals who — 
by the very excess of his servility — gave the signal 
for the change. Fortunately, too, for the interests 
of mankind, the change was caused by a violation of 
the most obvious principles of justice and good sense. 
It was owing to the unblushing seizure of Spain* It 
was owing to the gross and imfeeling farce of a pre- 
tended sympathy with the Spanish king's quarrel 
with his son; to the acceptance of a throne which 
the ridiculous father had no right to give away ; and 
to the endeavour to force the accession on a country, 
which, instead of tranquilly admitting it on the new 
principles of indifference to religion and zeal for 
advancement (as he had ignorantly expected), op- 
posed it with the united vehemence of dogged bigotry 
and an honest patriotism. 

Spain was henceforth the millstone hung round 
the neck of the conqueror ; and his marriage with 
a princess of Austria, which was thought such a won- 
derful piece of success, only furnished him with a 
like impediment ; for it added to the weight of his 
unpopularity with all honest and prospective minds. 
It was well said by Cobbett, that he had much 
better have assembled a hundred of the prettiest 
girls in France, and selected the prettiest of them 
all for his wife. The heads and hearts of the 
" Young Continent " were henceforward against the 
self-seeker, ambitious of the old ** shows of things," 



CAUSES OP napoleon's DOWNFALL. 53 

In contradiction to the honest " desires of the mind." 
Want of sympathy was prepared for him in case of • 
a reverse ; and when, partly in the confidence of his 
military pride, partly by way of making a final set- 
off against his difficulties in Spain, and partly in 
very ignorance of what Russian natures and Russian 
winters could effect, he went and ran his head against 
the great northern wall of ice and snow, he came 
back a ruined man, masterly and surprising as his 
efforts to reinstate himself might thereafter be. 
Nothing remained for him but to fume and fret in 
spirit, get fatter with a vitiated state of body, and 
see reverse on reverse coming round him, which he 
was to face to no purpose. The grandest thing he 
did was to return from Elba : the next, to fight the 
battle of Waterloo ; but he went to the field, bloated 
and half asleep, in a carriage. He had already, in 
body, become one of the commonest of those " em- 
perors" whom he had first laughed at and then 
leagued with : no great principle stood near him, as 
it did in the times of the republic, when armies of 
shoeless youths beat the veteran troops of Austria ; 
and thus, deserted by everything but his veterans 
and his generalship, which came to nothing before the 
unyieldingness of English, and the advent of Prussian 
soldiers, he became a fugitive in the ** belle France" 
which he had fancied his own, and died a prisoner 
in the hands of a man of the name of Lowe. 



54 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

I do not beKeve that George the Third, or his mi- 
nister, Mr. Pitt, speculated at all upon a catastrophe 
like this. I mean, that I do not believe they reckoned 
upon Napoleon destroying himself by his own am- 
bition. They looked, it is true, to the chance <rf 
'^something turning up;** but it was to be of the 
ordinary kind. They thought to* put him down by 
paid coalitions, and in the regular course of war. 
Hence, on repeated failures, the minister's broken 
heart, and probably the final extinguishment of the 
king's reason. The latter calamity, by a most unfor- 
tunate climax of untimeliness, took place a little 
before his enemy's reverses. 

George the Third was a very brave and honest man. 
He feared nothing on earth, and he acted according 
to his convictions. But, unfortunately, his convic- 
tions were at the mercy of a will far greater than his 
understanding ; and hence his courage became obsti- 
nacy, and his honesty the dupe of his inclinations. 
He was the son of a father with little brain, and of 
a mother who had a diseased blood : indeed, neither 
of his parents was healthy. He was brought up in 
rigid principles of morality on certain points, by 
persons who are supposed to have evaded them in 
their own conduct : he was taught undue notions 
of kingly prerogative ; he was suffered to grow up, 
nevertheless, in homely as well as shy and moody 
habits ; and, while acquiring a love of power tending 



CHAEACTER OP GEORGE THE THIRD. 55 

to the violent and uncontrollable^ he was not per- 
mitted to have a taste of it, till he became his own 
master. The consequences of this training were an 
extitiordinary mixture of domestic virtue with official 
duplicity ; of rustical, mechanical tastes and popular 
manners, with the most exalted ideas of authority; 
of a childish and self-betraying cunning, with the 
most stubborn reserves ; of fearlessness with sordid- 
ness ; good-nature with unforgivingness ; and of the 
health and strength of temperance and self-denial, 
with the last weaknesses of understanding, and pas- 
sions that exasperated it out of its reason. The 
English nation were pleased to see in him a crowning 
specimen of themselves, — a royal John Bull. They 
did not discover, till too late (perhaps have not yet 
discovered), how much of the objectionable, as well 
as the respectable, lies hidden in the sturdy nickname 
invented for them by Arbuthnot; how much the 
animal predominates in it over the intellectual ; and 
how terribly the bearer of it may be overdriven, 
whether in a royal or a national shape. They had 
much better get some new name for themselves, 
worthy of the days of Queen Victoria and of the 
hopes of the world. 

In every shape I reverence calamity, and would 
not be thought to speak of it with levity, especially 
in connection with a dynasty which has since become 
estimable, as well as reasonable, in every respect. 



56 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 



• 



If the histories of private as well as public families 
were known, the race of the Guelphs would only be 
found, in the person of one of their ancestors, to have 
shared, in common perhaps with every family in the 
world, the sorrows of occasional deterioration. But 
in the greatest and most tragical examples of human 
suffering, the homeliest, as well as the loftiest images, 
are too often forced on the mind together. George the 
Third, with all his faults, was a more estimable man 
than many of his enemies, and, certainly, than any 
of his wholesale revilers ; and the memory of his last 
days is sanctified by whatever can render the loss of 
sight and of reason affecting. In one respect, when 
sensible of his calamity, he must have experienced a 
great relief. He saw that none of his children were 
liable to it. They had been saved by the infusion 
of colder and more judicious blood from another 
German stock. George the Fourth, though not a 
wise man, had as sane a constitution as any man in 
his dominions ; and since the accession of his brother 
William, royalty and reason have never gone more 
harmoniously together, than they have done on the 
throne of Great Britain. 

Whatever of any kind has taken place in the world, 
may have been best for all of us in the long run. 
Nature permits us, retrospectively and for comfort's 
sake, though not in a different spirit, to entertain 
that conclusion among others. But meantime, either 



E^^JILT CAKEER OP THE "EXAMINEE." 57 

because the world Is not yet old enough to know 
better, or because we yet live but In the tuning of 
its Instruments, and have not learned to play the har- 
monies of the earth sweetly, men feel incited by 
what is good as well as bad In them, to object and 
to oppose ; and youth being the season of Inexpe- 
rience and of vanity, as well as of enthusiasm other- 
wise the most disinterested, the Examinery which 
began Its career, like most papers, with thinking the 
worst of those from whom it differed, and expressing 
its mind accordingly with fearless sincerity (which was 
not equally the case with those papers), it speedily 
excited the anger of government. It did this the 
more. Inasmuch as, according to what has been 
stated of Its opinions on foreign politics, and In mat- 
ters of church-government, it did not fall into the 
common and half-conciliating because degrading error 
of antagonists, by siding, as a matter of course, with 
the rest of its enemies. 

I need not re-open the questions of foreign and 
domestic policy, which were mooted with the ruling 
powers In those days. Reform In particular. The 
result Is well known, and the details in general have 
ceased to be interesting. I would repeat none of 
them at all, if personal history did not give a new 
zest to almost any kind of relation. As such, how- 
ever, is the case, I shall proceed to observe, that the 
Examiner had not been established a year, when go- 



58 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

vemment instituted a prosecution against it^ in con- 
sequence of some remarks on a pamphlet by a Major 
Hogan, who accused the Duke of York, as com- 
mander-in-chief, of favouritism and corruption. 

Major Hogan was a furious but honest Irishman, 
who had been in the army seventeen years. He had 
served and suffered bitterly ; in the West Indies he 
possessed the highest testimonials to his character, had 
been a very active recruiting officer, had seen forty 
captains promoted over his head in spite of repeated 
applications and promises, and he desired, after all, 
nothing but the permission to purchase his advance- 
ment, agreeably to every custom. 

Provoked out of his patience by these fruitless 
endeavours to buy, what others who had done 
nothing, obtained for nothing, and being particularly 
disgusted at being told, for the sixth time, that he 
had been " noted for promotion, and would be duly 
considered as favourable opportunities offered," the 
gallant Hibernian went straight, without any further 
ado, to the office of the Commander-in-chief, and 
there, with a vivacity and plain-speaking which must 
have looked like a scene in a play, addressed his 
Koyal Highness in a speech that astounded him : 

" I submitted (says he) to liis Royal Highnesses recollection, 
the long time I had been seeking for promotion, and begged 
him to take into his consideration the nature of the circum- 
stances under which I was recommended to his notice ; particu- 



MAJOR HOGAN AND THE DUKE OP YORK. 59 

larly pressing upon his attention, that, in the course of the time 
I had heen 'noted* on his Royal Highnesses list, upwards of 
forty captains had been promoted without purchase, all of 
whom were junior to me in rank, and many of them, indeed, 
were not in the army when I was a captain. I added, almost 
literally, in these words, — ' My applications for promotion have 
been made in the manner prescribed by the practice of the 
army, and by the king's regulations; unfortunately without 
success. Other ways, please your Royal Highness, have been 
recommended to me; and frequent propositions have been 
made by those who affected to possess the means of securing 
that object, that for 600/. I could obtain a majority without 
purchase, which is little more than half the sum I had lodged 
to purchase promotion in the regular course.* But I rejected 
such a proposition; for, even were such a thing possible, I 
would feel it unworthy of me> as a British officer and a man, to 
owe the king*s commission to low intrigue or petticoat in- 
fluence I' I expected the instantaneous expression of his Royal 
Highnesses gratitude for such a candid declaration. I looked 
for an immediate demand for explanation, and was prepared 
with ample evidence to satisfy his Highness, that such pro- 
ceedings were going on daily, as were disgraceful to the cha- 
racter of the army. But no question was put to me ; his royal 
mind seemed astounded, voxfaucihua luBsit, and I retired.*' 

Having thus dumbfounded the unhappy Com- 
mander-in-chief> the Major> in his pamphlet^ turned 



* " The money paid in the regular course goes into a public 
fund, which is not tangible by any public officer for private 
purposes, while the private douceur is wholly applicable to 
such purposes." — The Major^s Pamphlet. 



60 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

round upon certain acquaintances of his Royal 
Highness, and thus further proceeded to astonish 
the public : — 

" It has been observed to me (says he), by connoisseurs, tHat 
I should have had no reason to complain, if I had proceeded in 
the proper way to seek promotion. But what is meant by 
the proper way ? I applied to the Duke of York, because 
he was Commander-in-chief. To his Royal Highness I was 
directed by the King*s order to apply ; and with these orders 
alone I felt it consistent with my duty as an officer, and my 
honour as a gentleman, to comply. But if any other person 
had been the substitute of the Duke of York, I should have 
made my application to that person. If a Cooke, a Creswell, a 
Clarke, a Sinclair, or a Carey, or any other name had been 
invested by his Majesty with the office of Commander-in-chief, 
to that person I should have applied. Nay, if it had pleased his 
Majesty to confer upon a female the direct conunand of the 
army, I should have done my duty, in applying to the legal 
depository of power. But to no one other should I condescend 
to apply ; for I scorn undue influence, and feel incapable of en- 
joying any object, however intrinsically valuable, that should 
be procured by such means. 

" I have that evidence by me (he observes) ; indeed, I am in 
possession of such facts, as it would be imprudent in me to 
write, and as no printer in England perhaps would venture to 
publish. But if any member of either House of Parliament 
should be disposed to take up the subject, I can furnish him 
with materials that would enable him to make such an expose^ 
as shall stagger even the credulity proverbially ascribed to this 
country. 

'^ As some proof that I am known to possess materials that 



MAJOR HOGAN AND MRS. CLARKE. 61 

are calculated to excite alarm amongst those who must recollect 
their own acts, and, if they are at all sensible, must be fully 
conscious of their objectionable character, I have to state the 
following extraordinary fact : — About dusk on the evening of 
the first day my advertisement appeared, a lady in a dashing 
barouche, with two footmen, called at the newspaper-office for 
my address. She must be, no doubt, one of the vulnerable 
corps, or their agent; as, upon the following evening, at my 
lodgings, the waiter delivered me a letter, which I opened in 
the presence of four gentlemen, whose attestation to the fact 
appears below. The following is a copy of the letter : — 

" ' SiB, — The enclosed will answer for the deficit of which 
you complain, and which was not allowed you through mere 
oversight. I hope this will prevent the publication of your 
intended pamphlet 5 and, if it does, you may rely on a better 
situation than the one you had. When I find that you have 
given up all your secrets from public view, which would hurt you 
with all the royal family, I shall make myself known to you, 
and shall be happy in your future acquaintance and friendship ; 
by which, I promise you, you will reap much benefit. If you 
recall the advertisement, you shaU hear from me, and your 
claims shall be rewarded as they deserve. 
" ' Major Hog an.' 
Saturday, 27th August 1808. 

We, the undersigned, do hereby certify, that we were 
present when Major Hogan opened this letter and enclcsure, 
containing four bank-notes, to the amount of four hundred 

pounds. 

" ' John Daniel, late Capt. 17th Light Drags. 

Francis Moe. 

Henrt Wheat, Lieut. 32nd Regt. 
Lewis Gasquet, late Lieut. 20th Light Drags. 
'* Frank's CoflFee-house. 






62 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

** * I do hereby certify, that this letter was delivered to me at 
the door by a lady, who particularly desired me to be careful 
to give it to Major Hogan, and instantly went away : it was 
dusk at the time: I returned into the coffee-room and de- 
livered the letter. 

'* ' Geobge Fozed, 

" ' Waiter, Frank's Coffee-house.' 

** But such expedients shall have no effect upon the reve- 
lations of 

"D. HOGAN." 

" Frank's Hotel, 3, Brook-street, 
" Sept. 2, 1808. 

^ P. S. — The person who enclosed the four hundred pounds $ 
not having left any address, I cannot ascertain to whom I am to 
return that sum ; but if the numbers of the notes received are 
sent to No. 14, Angel-court, Throgmorton-street, the money 
will be returned. — D. H." 

The Examiner made comments on these dis- 
closures^ of a nature that was to be expected from 
its ardour in the cause of Beform; not omitting, 
however, to draw a distinction between the rights 
of domestic privacy and the claims to indulgence 
set up by trafEckers in public corruption. The 
government, however, cared nothing for this dis- 
tinction ; neither would it have had the corruption 
inquired into. Its prosecutions were of a nature 
that did not allow truth to be investigated ; and one 
of these was accordingly instituted against us, when 
it was unexpectedly turned aside by a member of 
Parliament, Colonel Wardle, who was resolved to 



MRS. CLARKE BEFORE HOUSE OF COMMONS. 63 

bring the female alluded to by Major Hogan, before 
the notice of that tribunal. 

I say " unexpectedly," because neither then, nor 
at any time, had I the least knowledge of Colonel 
Wardle. The Examinevy so to speak, lived quite 
alone. It sought nobody ; and its principles in this re- 
spect had already become so well understood that few 
sought it, and no one succeeded in making its ac- 
quaintance. The Colonel's motion for an investi- 
gation came upon us, therefore, like a god-send. 
The prosecution against the paper was dropped ; and 
the whole attention of the country was drawn to 
the strange spectacle of a laughing, impudent woman, 
brought to the bar of the House of Commons, and 
forcing them to laugh in their turn at the efirontery 
of her answers. The poor Duke of York had parted 
with her, and she had turned against him. 

The following is a specimen of the dialogue : — 

,*" Qtiestion. Who brought that message ? 

Answer, A particular friend of the duke's — Mr. Taylor, a 
shoemaker in Bond-street — (a laugh'). 

Q, Pray, by whom did you send your desires to the duke ? 

A, By my own pen. 

Q. I wish to know who brought the letter ? 

A, Why, the same Ambassador of Morocco^ (/owrf laugh" 
ing.) The witness was here called to order by the Speaker, and 
admonished to be more circumspect, or she would receive the 
censure of the House. 

Q, What is your husband^s name ? 



64 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

A, Clarke. 

» 

Q, Where were you married ? 

A, Mr. W. Adam can tell. (Adam was the duke*s agent.) 

Q, Did you not say you were married in Berkhampstead 
church ? 

An No : I merely laughed at it, when I heard it. 

Q. Did you ever see Mr. Alderman Clarke, or do you 
now believe that your husband was his nephew ? 

A, I don't recollect having seen Mr. Alderman Clarke ; and 
as to my husband, I never took any pains to ascertain anything 
respecting him, since I quitted him. He is nothing to me, nor I 
to him. 

Q. But what profession was he of? 

A, None that I know of; but his father was a builder. (He 
was understood to be a mason.) 

* * * « 4t 

Q. Have you not, at various times, received money from Mr. 
Dowler ? (Dowler was Assistant-Commissary of Stores.) 

A. At some particular times. I had a thousand pounds 
from him for his situation. 

Q. Do you owe any money to Mr. Dowler ? 

A-. I never recollect my debts to gentlemen — (a loud burst 
of laughter). 

The upshot of the investigation was, that Mrs. 
Clarke had evidently made money by the seekers 
of military promotion, but that the duke was pro- 
nounced innocent of connivance. His Royal High- 
ness withdrew however from office for a time (for 
he was not long afterwards reinstated), and public 
opinion, as to his innocence or guilt, went meanwhile 
pretty much according to that of party. 

My own impression, at this distance of time, and 



DUKE OF YORK AND MRS, CLARKE. 65 

after better knowledge of the duke's private history 
and prevailing character, is, that there was some 
connivance on his part, but not of a systematic 
nature, or beyond what he may have considered as 
warrantable towards a few special friends of his 
mistress, on the assumption that she would carry 
her influence no farther. His own letters proved 
that he allowed her to talk to him of people with a 
view to promotion. He even let her recommend 
him a clergyman, who (as he phrased it) had an 
ambition to "preach before royalty." He said he 
would do what he could to bring it about ; probably 
thinking nothing whatsoever — I mean, never having 
the thought enter his head — of the secret scandal of 
the thing, or not regarding hia consent a^ anything 
but a piece of good-natured patronizing acquiescence, 
after the ordinary fashion of the '^ ways of the 
world." 

For, in truth, the Duke of York was as good- 
natured a man as he was fax from being a wise one. 
The investigation gave him a salutary caution ; but 
I really believe, on the whole, that he had already 
been, as he was afterwards, a very good, con- 
scientious war-oflice clerk. He was a brave man, 
though no general ; a very filial, if not a very think- 
ing politician (for he always voted to please his 
father) ; and if he had no idea of economy, it is to 
be recollected how easUy princes' debts are incurred, 

VOL. II, P 



66 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

—how often encouraged by the creditors who com- 
plain of them ; and how often, and how temptingly 
to the debtor, they are paid off by governments. 

As to his amours, the temptations of royalty that 
way are still greater: the duke seems to have re- 
garded a mistress in a very tender and conjugal 
point of view, as long as the lady chose to be 
equally considerate; and if people wondered why 
such a loving man did not love his duchess — who 
appears to have been as good-natured as himself— 
the wonder ceased when they discovered, that her 
Royal Highness was a lady of so whimsical a taste, 
and possessed such an overflowing amount of be* 
nevolence towards the respectable race of beings 
hight dogs, that in the constant occupation of look- 
ing after the welfare of some scores of her canine 
friends, she had no leisure to cultivate the society of 
those human ones, that could better dispense with 
her attentions. 

The ministers naturally grudged the Exammer its 
escape from the Hogan prosecution, especially as 
they gained nothing with the paper, in consequence 
of their involuntary forbearance. Accordingly, be- 
fore another year was out, they instituted a second 
prosecution; and so eager were they to bring it, that, 
in their haste, they again overleaped their prudence. 
Readers in the present times, when more libels have 
J[>een written in a week by Toryism itself against 



TORT MINISTRY VERSUS THE "EXAMINER." 67 

royalty, in the most Irreverent style, than appeared 
in those days in the course of a year from pens the 
most radical, and against princes the most pro- 
voking, are astonished to hear, that the offence we 
had committed consisted of the following sen- 
tence :— 

" Of all monarchs once the Revolution, the suc- 
cessor of George the Third will have the finest 
opportunity of becoming nobly popular." 

But the real offence was the contempt di^layed 
towards the ministers themselves. The article in 
which the sentence appeared, was entitled ** Change 
of Ministry ;" the Duke of Portland had just retired 
from the premiership; and the Examiner had been 
long girding him and his associates on the scjore of 
general incompetency, as well as their particular 
unfitness for constitutional government. The minis- 
ters cared nothing for the king, in any sense of 
personal zeal, or of a particular wish to vindicate 
or exalt him* The tempers, caprices, and strange 
notions of sincerity and craft, to which he was sub- 
ject, by neutralising in a great measure his ordinary 
good nature and somewhat exuberant style of inter- 
course on the side of familiarity and gossiping, did 
not render him a very desirable person to deal with, 
even among friends. But he was essentially a Tory 
king, and so far a favourite of Tories ; he was now 
terminating the fiftieth year of his reign; there waa 

p 2 



68 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

to be a jubilee in consequence; and the ministers 
thought to turn the loyalty of the holiday into an 
instrument of personal revenge. 

The entire passage charged with being libellous 
in that article^ consisted of the words marked in 
italics, and the framers of the indictment evidently 
calculated on the usual identification of a special 
with a Tory jury. They had reckoned, at the same 
time, so confidently on the effect to be produced 
with that class of persons, by any objection to the 
old king, that the proprietor of the Morning Chra^ 
nicley Mr. Perry, was prosecuted for having extracted 
only the two concluding sentences; and as the 
government was still more angered with the Whigs 
who hoped to displace them, than with the Badicals 
who wished to see them displaced, Mr. Perry's pro- 
secution preceded ours. This was fortunate; for 
though the proprietor of the Morning Chronicle 
pleaded his own cause, an occasion in which a man 
is said to have *^a fool for his client" (that is to 
say, in the opinion of lawyers), he pleaded it so 
well, and the judge (EUenborough) who afterwards 
shewed himself so zealous a Whig, gave him a hear- 
ing and construction so favourable, that he obtained 
an acquittal, and the prosecution against the Exa- 
miner accordingly fell to the ground. 

I had the pleasure of a visit from this gentleman 
while his indictment was pending. He came to tell 



ME. PERBT OT THE " MOBNING CHRONICLE.'' 69 

me how he meant to conduct his defence. He was a 
lively, good-natured man, with a shrewd expression 
of countenance, and twinkling eyes, which he not 
unwillingly turned upon the ladies. I had lately 
married, and happened to be sitting with my wife. 
A chair was given him close to us ; but as he was 
very near-sighted, and yet could not well put up his 
eyeglass to look at her (which purpose, nevertheless, 
he was clearly bent on effecting), he took occasion, 
while speaking of the way in which he should ad- 
dress the jury, to thrust his face close upon hers, 
observing at the same time, with his liveliest em- 
phasis, and, as if expressly for her information, ** I 
mean to be very modest." 

The unexpectedness of this announcement, together 
with the equivocal turn given to it by the vivacity 
of his movement, had all the effect of a dramatic 
surprise, and it was with diflSculty we kept our 
countenance. 

Mr. Perry subsequently became one of my warm- 
est friends, and, among other services, would have 
done me one of a very curious nature, which I will 
mention by-and-by. 

As the importance attached to the article by go- 
vernment may give it some interest, and as it is not 
unamusing, I will here lay the greater part of it 
before the reader. He will see what a very little 
figure is made in it by the words that were prose- 



70 LIFE or LEIGH HUNT. 

cuted, and in how much greater a degree the writer's 
mind must have been occupied with the king's minis- 
ters^ than with the king. 

'^ Political Examtwbk, No. 92, — Change of Ministry. 

^ The administration is still without a head, but the minis- 
terial papers tell us, it does quite as well as before. There can 
be no doubt of it. As it is not customary, however, for head- 
less trunks to make their appearance at court, or to walk abroad 
under pretence of looking after the nation, it feels rather awk- 
ward without some show of pericranium ; and, accordingly, like 
the vivacious giant in Ariosto, who dived to recover his head 
out of the sea, it has exhibited a singular ingenuity in endea- 
vouring to supply its loss. At one moment, it was said to have 
clapped a great bottle on its shoulders, and called itself Rich- 
mond : at another, to have mounted an attorney's bag, under 
the name of Perceval ; and at a third, to have put on an enor- 
mous balloon, and strutted forth under the appellation of 
Wellesley. The very idea, however, of these repairs appeared 
so ridiculous in the eyes of the spectators, that the project 
seems to have been abandoned for a time ; for the trunk in- 
stantly set about repairing the additional loss of its arms, which 
were taken off the other day in a duel.* To this end, it is said 
to have applied to two great lords for assistance, f who an- 
swered, with manifest contempt, that they could not think of 
separating any of their members jGrom each other to patch up 
so vile a body. The fragment, therefore, continues in a very 
desponding way at St. Jameses, where it keeps itself alive by 



* Between Canning and Lord Castlereagh. 
t Grey and Grenville. 



*^ EXAMINER^ VERSUS THE TORT MINISTRY. 71 

cutting out articles for the Morning Post with its toes, and 
kicking eyerj Catholic who comes that way, to the great diver- 
sion of the court. The other day it was introduced to his 
^j^y» who was pleased to express great commiseration at its 
want of brains, and said he would do something for it if he 
oould. 

" Such ia the picture, and unfortunately no exaggerated one, 
of the British ministry. What the French must think of it, 
is too mortifying for reflection. Perhaps there never was an 
instance in this nation of any set of rulers, who suffered under 
a contempt so universal. In the general run of politics, people 
differ with each other on the acts of administration, as so many 
matters of opinion ; but to admire Percival and Castlereagh is 
an enormity reconcileable to no standard of common sense. 
Wherever there is an intellect, unpolluted by interest, there 
the contempt of these men is pure and unmixed. They 
cannot even produce a decent hireling to advocate their 
cause ; their writers have become proverbially wretched ; and 
I believe the most galling thing that could be said to an 
author applying for one's opinion of his manuscript, would be 
to tell him that he writes like the Post, As to the contractors 
and jobbers, who all praise the ministry, there are no doubt 
some shrewd men in so large a body of people ; but a jobber 
has no opinion : his object is to cheat the army and navy, and 
become a baronet ; and he knows very well, that these things 
are not done by speaking the truth. A contractor, thereforei 
should never say, ' It is my ojHnion,* or, ' I really think,* as 
Sir William, and Sir Charles, and Sir James are apt to do, by 
slips of the tongue : he should say, ' My turtle informs me ;* 
— * I understand by a large order I had the other day ; ' — ' I 
am told by a very accurate bale of goods,* &c. &e. When such 
men can come forward and render themselves pditically jhto* 



72 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

minent by sounding the praues of an administration, it is a 
sure sign that there is nobody else to do it 

^' That Lords Grenville and Grey should haye refused to 
coalesce with such a ministry, cannot be matter of surprise* 
Mere shame, one would think, must prevent them. Accord-* 
ingly, their lordships are said to have transmitted the same 
prompt refusal from the country, though at the distance of six 
hundred miles from each other. Lord Grenyille, howeyer, 
having followed his letter to town, caused a ' great sensation * 
among the coffee-house speculators, who gave him up for lost 
in the irresistible vortex of place ; but the papers of yesterday 
tell us, that his journey was in consequence of the artful ambi-* 
guity of Mr. Perceval's letter, which was so worded as to render 
it doubtful whether its proposals came direct from his Majesty, 
or only from the minister : his lordship, they say, was inclined 
to view it in the former light, and therefore thought himself 
'bound to be near the court in its emergencies;* whereas. 
Lord Grey regarded it entirely as a ministerial trap, and treated 
it accordingly* Whatever may he the truth of these statements^ 
it is generally supposed that the mutilated administration^ in 
spite of its tenacity of life, cannot exist much longer ; and the 
Fcxites^ of course^ are beginning to rally round their leaders^ in 
Order to give it the coup-de-grace. A more respectable set of 
men they certainly arCy — with more general information, more 
attention to the encouragement of intellect, and altogether a more 
enlightened policy ; and if his Majesty could be persuaded to 
enter into their conciliatory views with regard to Ireland, a 
most important and most necessary benefit would be obtained for 
this country. The subject of Ireland, next to the difficulty of 
coalition, is no dovht the great trouble in the election of his 
Majest^s servants; and it is this, most probably, which has 
given rise to the talk of a regency, a measure to which the court 



EECONSIDERATION OF TOTING CONCLUSIONS. H 

tDould never resort while it felt a possibility of acting upon its 
oum principles. What a crowd of blessings rush upon one^s 
mind, that might be bestowed upon the country in the event of 
such a change / Of all monarchs, indeed, since the Revolution, 
the successor of George the Third will have the finest opportu- 
nity of becoming nobly popular." 

Of the ministers, whom a young journalist thus 
treated with contempt, I learned afterwards to think 
better. Not as ministers; for I still consider them, 
in that respect, as the luckiest, and the least deserving 
their luck, of any statesmen that have been employed 
by the House of Brunswick. I speak not only of 
the section at that moment reigning, but of the 
whole of what was called Mr. Pitt's successors. But 
with the inexperience and presumption of youth, I 
was too much in the habit of confounding difference 
of opinion with dishonest motives. I did not see 
(and it is strange how people, not otherwise wanting 
in common sense or modesty, can pass whole lives 
without seeing) that if I had a right to have good 
motives attributed to myself by those who differed 
with me in opinion, I was bound to reciprocate the 
concession. I did not reflect that political antagonists 
have generally been bom and bred in a state of 
antagonism, and that for any one of them to demand 
identity of opinion from another on pain of his being 
thought a man of bad motives, was to demand that 
he should have had the antagonist's father and mother 



74 LIFE OF LEIGH HUITT. 

as well as his own — ^the same traimng, the same 
direction of conscience, the same predilections 
and very prejudices; not to mention, that good 
motives themselves might have induced a man to go 
counter to all these, even had he been bred in them ; 
which, in one or two respects, was the case with 
myself. 

Canning, indeed^ was not a man to be treated 
with contempt under any circumstances, by those 
who admired wit and rhetoric; though, compared 
with what he actually achieved in either, I cannot 
help thinking that his position procured him an un- 
due measure of fame. What has he left us to 
perpetuate the amount of it? A speech or two, 
and the Ode on the Knife - Grinder, This will 
hardly account, with the next ages, for the statue 
that occupies the highway in Westminster ; a com- 
pliment, too, unique of its kind ; monopolizing the 
parliamentary pavement, as though the original had 
been the only man fit to go forth as the representa- 
tive of Parliament itself, and to challenge the 
admiration of the passengers. The liberal measures 
of Canning's last days renewed his claim on the 
public regard, especially as he was left, by the jeal- 
ousy and resentment of his colleagues, to carry 
them by himself; jealousy, because small as his wit 
was for a great fame, they had none of their own to 
equal it ; and resentment, because, in its indiscretions 



CANNING iOSD LOBD LIVBEPOOL, 75 

imd inconsiderateness, it had nicknamed or bantered 
them all rounds — ^the real caose^ I have no doubts of 
that arlBtocratical desertion of his ascendency, which 
broke his heart at the very height of hi£ fortunes. But 
at the time I speak of, I took him for nothing but a 
great sort of in^udent Eton boy, with an unfeeling- 
ness that surmounted his ability. Whereas, he was 
a man of great natural sensibility, a good husband 
and father, and an admirable son. Canning con- 
tinued, as long as he lived, to write a letter every 
week to his mother who had been an actress, and 
whom he treated, in every respect, with a conridera- 
tion and tenderness that may be pronounced to 
have been perfect* **Good son** should have been 
written under his statue. It would have given the 
somewhat pert look of his himdsome face a pleasanter 
effect; and have done him a thousand times more 
good with the coming generations, than his Ode on 
the Knife^Grinder. 

The Earl of Liverpool, whom Madame de Stael 
is said to have described as having a '^ talent for 
^ence," and to have asked, in company, what had 
become of ** that dull speaker. Lord Hawkesbury " 
(his title during his father's lifetime), was assuredly 
a very dull minister; but I believe he was a very 
good man. His father had been so much in the 
confidence of the Earl of Bute at the accession of 
George III., as to have succeeded to his invidious 



76 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

reputation of being the secret adviser of the king ; 
and he continued in great favour during the whole of 
the reign. The son, with little interval, was in office 
during the whole of the war with Napoleon; and 
after partaking of all the bitter draughts of disap- 
pointment which ended in killing Pitt, had the luck 
of tasting the sweets of triumph. I met him one 
day, not long afterwards, driving his barouche in a 
beautiful spot where he lived, and was so struck 
with the melancholy of his aspect, that, as I did 
not know him by sight, I asked a passenger who he 
was. 

The same triumph did not hinder poor Lord 
Castlereagh from dying by his own hand. The long 
burden of responsibility had been too much, even for 
him ; though, to all appearance, he was a man of a 
stronger temperament than Lord Liverpool, and had, 
indeed, a very noble aspect He should have led a 
private life, and been counted one of the models of 
the aristocracy ; for though a ridiculous speaker, and 
a cruel politician (out of impatience of seeing con- 
stant trouble, and not knowing otherwise how to end 
it), he was an inteUigent and kindly man in pri- 
vate life, and could be superior to his position as a 
statesman. He delighted in the political satire of 
the Beggars Opera; has been seen applauding it 
from a stage box ; and Lady Morgan tells us, would 
ask her in company to play him the songs on the 



QUEEN VICTORIA. 77 

pianoforte, and good-humouredly accompany them 
with a bad voice. How pleasant it is thus to find 
oneself reconciled to men whom we have ignorantly 
undervalued I and how fortunate to have lived long 
enough to say so I 

The Examiner^ though it preferred the Whigs to 
the Tories, was not a Whig of the school then exist- 
ing. Its great object was a reform in Parliament, 
which the older and more influential Whigs did not 
advocate, which the younger ones (the fathers of 
those now living) advocated but fitfully and mis- 
givingly, and which had lately been suffered to fall 
entirely into the hands of those newer and more 
thorough-going Whigs, which were known by the 
name of Radicals, and have since been called Whig- 
Badicals, and Liberals. The opinions of the Exa- 
miner^ in fact, both as to State and Church Govern- 
ment, allowing, of course, for difference of position 
in the parties, and tone in their manifestation, were 
those now swaying the destinies of the country, in 
the persons of Queen Victoria, and her minister 
Lord John Russell. I do not presume to give her 
Majesty the name of a partizan ; or to imply that, 
under any circumstances, she would condescend to 
accept it. Her business, as she well knows and 
admirably demonstrates, is, not to side with any of 
the disputants among her children, but to act lovingly 
and dispassionately for them all, as circumstances 



78 LIFE OP LBIGH HUNT. 

render expedient But the extraordinary events 
which took place on the continent during her dbild- 
hood, the narrow political yiews of most of her 
immediate predecessors, her own finer and more 
genial brain, and the training of a wise mother, 
whose &mil7 appears to have taken healthy draughts 
of those ample and fresh fountains of German literar 
ture which are so well qualified to return the good 
done them by our own, and set the contracted stream 
of English thought and nurture flowing again, as 
becomes its common Saxon origin,— all these cir- 
cumstances in combination have rendered her what 
no prince of her house has been before her, — equal 
to the demands, not only of the nation and the day, 
but of the days to come, and the popular interests 
of the world. So, at least, I conceive. I do not 
pretend to any special knowledge of the court or its 
advisers. I speak from what I have seen of her 
Majesty's readiness to fall in with every great and 
liberal measure for the education of the country, the 
freedom of trade, and the independence of nations ; 
and I spoke in the same manner, before I could 
be suspected of confounding esteem with gratitude. 
She knows how, and nobly dares, to let the reins of 
restriction in the hands of individuals be loosened 
before the growing steength and self-government of 
tiie many ; and the royal house that best knows how 
to do this, and neither to tighten those reins in anger 



BEPUBLICS ASTD LIMITED MOKABCHIES. 79 

nor abandon them oat of fear, will be the last house 
to suffer in any convulsion which others may pro- 
yoke, and the first to be re-assured in their retention, 
as long as royalty shaU exist. May it exist, under 
the shape in which I can picture it to my imagina- 
tion, as long as reasonableness can outlive envy, and 
ornament be known to be one of nature's desires ! 
Excess, neither of riches nor poverty, would then 
endanger it. I am no republican, nor ever was, though 
I have lived during a period of history when kings 
themselves tried hard to make honest men repub«> 
licans by their apparent unteachableness* But my 
own education, the love, perhaps, of poetic ornament, 
and the repulsiveness of a republic itself, even of 
British origin, with its huffing manners, its frontless 
love of money, and its slave -holding abuse of its 
very freedom, kept me within the pale of the loyal. 
I might prefer, perhaps, a succession of queens to / 
kings, and a simple fillet on their brows to the most 
gorgeous diadem. I think that men more willingly 
obey the one, and I am sure that nobody could mis- 
take the cost of the other. But peaceful and reason- 
able provision for the progress of mankind towards 
all the good possible to their nature, is the great 
desideratum in government ; and seeing this more 
securely and handsomely maintained in limited 
monarchies than republics, I am for English per- 
manence in this respect, in preference to French 



80 LirE or leigh hunt. 

Tolatilitj^ and American slaye-holding utilitarian- 
isnu 

The Tory government having failed in its two 
attacks on the Examiner, could not be content^ for 
any length of time5 till it had failed in a third. For 
such was the case. The new charge was again on 
the subject of the army, — that of military flogging. 
An excellent article on the absurd and cruel nature 
of that punishment, from the pen of the late Mr. 
John Scott (who afterwards fell in a duel with one 
of the writers in Blackwood), had appeared in a 
country paper, the Stamford News, of which he was 
editor. The most striking passages of this article 
were copied into the Examiner ; and it is a remark- 
able circumstance in the history of juries, that after 
the journal which copied it had been acquitted in 
London, the journal which originated the copied 
matter was found guilty in Stamford ; and this, too, 
though the counsel was the same in both instances, 
— ^the present Lord Brougham. 

The attorney-general at that time was Sir Vicary 
Gibbs ; a name, which it appears somewhat ludicrous 
to me to write at present, considering what a bug- 
bear it was to politicians, and how insignificant it 
has since become. He was a little, irritable, sharp- 
featured, bilious-looking man (so at least he was 
described, for I never saw him); very worthy, I 
believe, in private; and said to be so fond of 



SIB VIC ART GIBBS. 81 

novels, that he would read them after the labours of 
the day, till the wax-lights guttered without his 
knowing it. I had a secret regard for him on this 
account, and wished he would not haunt me in a 
spirit so unlike Tom Jones. I know not what sort 
of lawyer he was; probably none the worse for 
imbuing himself with the knowledge of Fielding 
and Smollett ; but he was a bad reasoner, and made 
half-witted charges. He used those edge-tools of 
accusation which cut a man's own fingers. He 
assumed, that we could have no motives for writing 
but mercenary ones; and he argued, that because 
Mr. Scott (who had no more regard for Bonaparte 
than we had) endeavoured to shame down the prac- 
tice of military flogging by pointing to the disuse of 
it in the armies of France, he only wanted to sub- 
ject his native country to invasion. He also had the 
simplicity to ask, why we did not " speak privately 
on the subject to some member of Parliament," and 
get him to notice it in a proper manner, instead of 
bringing it before the public in a newspaper ? We 
laughed at him ; and the event of his accusations 
enabled us to laugh more. , 

The charge of being friends of Bonaparte against 
all who differed with Lord Castlereagh and Mr. 
Canning was a common, and, for too long a time, a 
successful trick, with such of the public as did not 
read the writings of the persons accused. I have 

VOL. II. O 



83 LIVB 01* LEIOH HUKT. 

often been sorprised, much later in life, both in 
relation to this and oihex ehargeg^ at the credulitj 
into which many excellent persons had owned they 
had been tiiiis beguiled, and at the surprise which 
they expressed in turn at finding tiie charges the 
reverse of truer To the readers of the ExandneVy 
they caused only indignation or merriment. 

The last and most formidable prosecution against 
us remains to be told ; but some intermediate circum- 
stances must be related first. 



THE " BEFLECTOB." 83 



CHAPTEE Xn. 

LITEBABT WABFABE. 

Tke Bfillector and the writers in it, — ^Feast of the Poets. — Its 
attack on Qifford for his attack on Mrs, Rolnnson,'^ Character 
of Gifford and his Writings. — S^cimens of the Baviad and 
Moeviad.— -5iw appearance at the Boxburgh Sale of Books, — 
Attack on Walter Scott , occasioned hy a passage in his edition 
of Dry den, — Tory Calumny, — Qmrrels and recriminations of 
authors, — The toriters preset opinion of Sir Walter* — General 
offence caused by the Peaat of tlie Poets. — Its inconsiderate 
treatment of ffayley, — Dinner of the Prince Regent, — Holland 
House and Lord Holland, — Neutralization of Whig advocacy, — 
Eecollections of Blanco White, 

The Examiner had been established about three 
years, when my brother projected a quarterly maga- 
zine of literature and politics, entitled the Rejlectorf 
which I edited. Lamb, Dyer, Barnes, Mitchell, 'the 
present Greek Professor Scholefield (aU Christ- 
Hospital men), together with Dr. Aikin and his 
family wrote in it ; and it was riding in sale every 
quarter, wh^n it stopped at the close of the fourth 
niunber for want of funds. Its termination was not 

G 2 



84 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

• 

owing to want of liberality in the payments. But 
the radical reformers in those days were not suffi- 
ciently rich or numerous to support such a publi- 
cation. 

Some of the liveliest effiisions of Lamb first ap- 
peared in this magazine ; and in order that I might 
retain no influential class for my good wishers, after 
having angered the stage, dissatisfied the Church, 
offended the State, not very well pleased the Whigs, 
and exasperated the Tories, I must needs commence 
the maturer part of my verse-making with contri- 
buting to its pages the Feast of the Poets, 

The FecLst of the Poets was (perhaps, I may say, 
is) a jeu-^esprit suggested by the Session of the Poets 
of Sir John Suckling. Apollo gives the poets a 
dinner ; and many verse-makers, who have no claim 
to the title, present themselves, and are rejected. 

With this eflusion, while thinking of nothing but 
showing my wit, and reposing under the shadow of 
my '^laurels" (of which I expected a harvest as 
abundant as my self-esteem), I made almost every 
living poet and poetaster my enemy, and particularly 
exasperated those among the Tories. I speak of the 
shape in which it first appeared, before time and 
reflection had moderated its judgment. It drew 
upon my head all the personal hostility which had 
hitherto been held in a state of suspense by the 
vaguer daring of the Examiner; and I have reason to 



GIFFORD AND THE "QUAETERLY REVIEW." 85 

believe that its inconsiderate, and I am bound to 
confess, in some respects, unwarrantable levity, was 
the origin of the gravest, and far less warrantable 
attacks which I afterwards sustained from political 
antagonists, and which caused the most serious mis- 
chief to my fortunes. Let the young satirist take 

ft 

warning; and consider how much self-love he is 
going to wound, by the indulgence of his own. 

Not that I have to apologize to the memory of 
every one whom I attacked. I am sorry to have 
had occasion to differ with any of my fellow-crea- 
tures, knowing the mistakes to which we are all 
liable, and the circuijistances that help to cause 
them. But I can only regret it, personally, in 
proportion to the worth or personal regret on the 
side of the enemy. 

The. Quartetdy Review^ for instance, had lately been . 
set up, and its editor was Gifford, the author of the 
Baviad and Mosviad. I had been invited, nay, pressed 
by the publisher, to write in the new review ; which 
surprised me, considering its politics and the great 
difference of my own. I was not aware of the little 
faith that was held in the politics of any beginner of 
the world ; and I have no doubt, that the invitation 
had been made at the instance of Gifford himself, of 
whom, as the dictum of a "man of vigorous learning," 
and the ** first satirist of his time," I had quoted in 
the Critical Essays the gentle observation, that " all 



/ 



86 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

the fools in the kingdom seemed to have risen up 
with one accord^ and exclaimed^ 'let us write for the 
theatres!'" 

Strange must have been Gifford's feelings^ when, 
in the Feast of the Poets, he found his eulogizer 
falling as trenchantly on the author of the Baviad 
and McBviad as the Baviad and Mceviad had fallen on 
the dramatists. The Tory editor discerned plainly 
enough, that if a man's politics were of no considera- 
tion with the Quarterly Reviewy provided the politician 
was his critical admirer, they were very different 
things with the editor SadicaL He found also, that 
the new satirist had ceased to.regard the old one as 
a " critical authority ;" and he might not haver un- 
warrantably concluded, that I had conceived some 
personal disgust against him as a man; for such, 
indeed, was the secret of my attack. 

The reader is perhaps aware, that George the Fourth, 
when he was Prince of Wales, had a mistress of the 
name of Bobinson. She was the wife of a man of no 
great character ; had taken to the stage for a liveli- 
hood ; was very handsome, wrote verses, and is said 
to have excited a tender emotion in the bosom of 
Charles Fox. The Prince allured her from the 
stage, and lived with her for some years. After their 
separation, and during her decline, which took place 
before she was old, she became afflicted with rheu- 
matism ; and as she solaced her pains, and perhaps 



giffobd's attacks on females. 87 

added to her subsistence, bywritbg Tenses, and aa 
her Terses turned upon her affections, and she oould 
not disoontinne her old yein c£ love and sentiment, 
she fell under the lash of this masculine and gallant 
gentleman, Mr. Gifford, who, in his Baviad and 
Mcsmadf amused himself with tripping up her 
^' crutches," particularly as he thought her on her 
way to her last home. This he considered the climax 
of the Am. 

'^ See," exclaimed he, after a hit or two at other 
women^ like a boy throwing stones in die street,-^ 

" See Robinson forget her state, and move 
On crutches towrds the grave to * Light o' Love.' " 

This is the passage which put all the gall into 
anything which I said, then or afterwards, of Gifford, 
till he attacked myself and my friends. At least, it 
disposed me to think the worst of whatever he wrote ; 
and as reflection did not improve nor suffering soften 
him, he is the only man I ever attacked, respecting 
whom I have felt no regret. '" 

It would be easy for me, at this distance of time, 
to own that Grifford possessed genius, had such been 
the case. It would have been easy for me at any 
time. But he had not a particle. The scouiger of 
poetasters was himself a poetaster. When he had 
done with his whip, everybody had a right to take it 
up, and lay it over the scourger's dioulders; for 



88 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

thougli he had sense enough to discern glaring faults^ 
he abounded in commonplaces. His satire itself, 
which at its best never went beyond smartness, was 
full of them. 

The reader shall have a specimen or two, in order 
that Mr. Giffbrd may speak for himself; for his 
book has long ceased to be read. He shall see with 
how little a stock of his own a man may set up for a 
judge of others. 

The Bauiad and Moeviad — so called from two bad 
poets mentioned by Virgil — ^was a satire, imitated 
from Persius, on a set of fantastic writers who had 
made their appearance under the title of Delia 
Cruscans. The coterie originated in the meeting 
of some of them at Florence, the seat of the famous 
Delia Cruscan Academy. Mr. Merry, their leader, 
who was a member of that academy, and who wrote 
under its signature, gave occasion to the name. 
They first published a collection of poems, called the 
Florence Miscellany, and then sent verses to the 
London newspapers, which occasioned an overflow 
of contributions in the like taste. The taste was as 
bad as can be imagined ; full of floweriness, conceits, 
and affectation; and, in attempting to escape from 
commonplace, it evaporated into nonsense : — 

" Was it the shuttle of the mom 
That wove upon the cobwebVd thorn 
Thy airy lay?" 



gifford's attacks on females. 89 

" Hang o'er his eye the gossamery tear." 

** Gauzy zephyrs, fluttering o'er the plain, 
On twilight's hosom drop their filmy rain." 
&c. &c. 

It was impossible that such absurdities could have 
had any lasting effect on the public taste. They 
would have died of inanition. But Mr. Gifford, 
finding the triumph easy^ and the temptation to 
show his superiority irresistible, chose to think 
otherwise ; and hence his determination to scourge 
the rogues, and trample on their imbecility. . 

The female portion of them particularly offended 
him. The first name he mentions is that of Mrs. 
Piozzi, whose presumption in writing books he 
seemed to consider a personal offence, — as though 
he represented the whole dignity and indignation of 
literature. His attack on her, which he commences 
in a note, opens with the following unconscious 
satire on himself: — 

** * Though no one better knows his own house ' 
than I the vanity of this woman, yet the idea of her 
undertaking such a work " {British Synonimes) " had 
never entered my head, and I was thunderstruck 
when I first saw it announced." 

Mrs. Piozzi was, perhaps, as incompetent to write 
British Synonimes as Mr. Gifford to write poetry ; 
but what call had he to be offended with the 
mistake ? 



90 LITE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

His satire consists, not in a critical esposore, — ^in 
showing why the objects of his contempt are wrong, 
— but in simply asserting that they are so. He turns 
a commonplace of his own in his yerses, quotes a 
passage from his author in a note, expresses his 
amazement at it, and thus thinks he has proved his 
case, when he has made out nothing but an over- 
weening assumption at the expense of what was not 
worth noticing. " I was bom,** says he, 

** To brand obtrusive ignorance with scorn, 
On bloated pedantry to pour my ragey 
And hiss prepotterous fiutian from the stage.** 

What commonplace talking is that? And so he 
goes on : — 

" Lo I Delia Crusca, in his closet pent, 
He toils to give the crude conceptions vetU, 
Abortive thoughts, that right and wrong confound^ 
Truth sacrificed to letters, [why * letters *?] sense to sound ; 
False glare, incongruous images, combine : 
And noise and nonsense clatter through the line.** 

What is the example of writing here which is 
shown to the poor Delia Cruscans ? What the mas- 
terly novelty of style or imagery ? What the right 
evinced to speak in the language of a teacher? 
Yet Gifford never doubted himself on these points. 
He stood uttering his didactic nothings as if other 
literary defaulters were but so many children, whom 



GIFFOBD A POETASTEB. 91 

it taxed his condescension to instruct. Here is some 
more of the same stuff: — 

" Then let your style be briefi your meaning dear, 
Nor, like Lorenzo, tire the labouring ear 
With a wild waste of words ; sound without tsense, 
And all the florid glare of impotence. 
Still, with your characters your language change, — 
From grave to gay, as nature dictates^ range : 
Now droop in all the plaintiveness of woe, — (I !) 
Now in glad numbers light and airy flow ; 
Now shake the stage with guilt*s alarming tone^ ( ! !) 
And make the aching bosom aU your ovm^ 

• 
Was there ever a fonder set of complacent old 

phrases^ such as any schoolboy might utter? Yet 

this is the man who undertook to despise Charles 

Lamb^ and to trample on Keats and Shelley. 

I have mentioned the Roxburgh sale of books. I 

was standing among the bidders with my friend the 

late Mr. Barron Field, when he jogged my elbow, 

and said, " There is Gifford over the way, looking at 

you with such a face!" I met the eyes of my 

beholder, and saw a little man, with a warped frame 

and a countenance between the querulous and the 

angry, gazing at me with all his might. It was, 

truly enough, the satirist who could not bear to be 

satirized, — the denouncer of incompetencies, who 

could not bear to be told of his own* He had now 

learnt, as I was myself to learn, what it was to taste 

of his own bitter medicaments ; and he never pro- 



92 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

fited* by it ; for his Review spared neither age nor 
sex as long as he lived. What he did at firsts out 
of a self-satisfied incompetence^ he did at last out of 
an envious and angry one; and he was^ all the 
while, the humble servant of power, and never 
expressed one word of regret for his inhumanity. 
This mixture of implacability and servility is the 
sole reason, as I have said before, why I still speak 
of him as I do. If he secretly felt regret for it, I 
am sorry, — especially if he retained any love for his 
" Anna,*' whom I take to have been not only the 
good servant and friend he describes her, but such a 
one as he could wish that he had married. Why did 
he not marry her, and remain a humbler and a 
happier man? or how was it, that the power to have 
any love at all could not teach him that other people 
might have feelings as well as himself, especially 
women and the sick ? 

Such were the causes of my disfavour with the 
Tory critics in England. 

To those in Scotland I gave, in like manner, the 
first cause of offence, and they had better right to 
complain of me ; though they ended, as far as re- 
gards the mode of resentment, in being still more in 
the wrong. I had taken a dislike to Walter Scott, 
on account of a solitary passage in his edition of 
Dryderiy — ^nay, on account of a single word. The 
word, it must be allowed, was an extraordinary one. 



TOBYISM OF WALTER SCOTT. 93 

and such as he must have regretted writing : for 
a more dastardly or deliberate piece of wickedness 
than allowing a ship with its crew to go to sea, 
knowing the vessel to be leaky, believing it likely to 
founder, and on purpose to destroy one of the pas- 
sengers, it is not easy to conceive ; yet, because this 
was done by a Tory king, the relater could find no 
severer term for it than " ungenerous." Here is the 
passage : — 

" His political principles (the Earl of Mulgrave's) were those 
of a stanch Tory, which he maintained through his whole 
life ; and he was zealous for the royal prerogative, although he 
had no small reason to complain of Charles the Second, who, to 
avenge himself of Mulgrave, for a supposed attachment to the 
Princess Anne, sent him to Tangiers, at the head of some 
troops, in a leaky vessel, which it was supposed must have 
perished in the voyage. Though Mulgrave was apprised of 
the danger, he scorned to shun it ; and the Earl of Plymouth, 
a favourite son of the king, generously insisted upon sharing it 
along with him. This ungenerous attempt to destroy him in 
the very act of performing his duty, with the refusal of a 
regiment, made a temporary change in Mulgrave's conduct." — 
Notes on Absalom and Achitophel in Dryden^s TForks, vol. ix. 
p. 304. 

This passage was the reason why the future great 
novelist was introduced to Apollo, in the Feast of the 
Poets, after a very irreverent fashion. 

I believe, that with reference to high standards of 
poetry and criticism, superior to mere description. 



94 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

however lively^ to the demands of rh^e for its own 
* sake^ to prosaical groundworks of style^ metaphors 
of common property, conventionalities in general, 
and the prevalence of a material over a spiritual 
treatment, my estimate of Walter Scott's then pub- 
lications, making allowance for the manner of it, 
will still be found not far from the truth, by those 
who have profited by a more advanced age of sDsthe- 
tical culture. 

There is as much difference, for instance, poeti- 
cally speaking, between Coleridge's brief poem, 
Christabel, and all the narrative poems of Walter 
Scott, or as Wordsworth called them, "novels in 
verse," as between a precious essence and a coarse 
imitation of it, got up for sale. Indeed, Coleridge, 
not unnaturally, though not with entire reason (for 
the story and the characters were the real charm), 
lamented that an endeavour, unavowed, had been 
made to catch his tone, and had succeeded just far 
enough to recommend to unboimded popularity what 
had nothing in common with it 

But though Walter Scott was no novelist at that 
time except in verse, the tone of personal assump- 
tion towards him in the Feast of the Poets formed a 
just ground of offence. Not that I had not as much 
right to differ with any man on any subject, as he 
had to differ with others ; but it would have become 
me;, especially at that time of life, and in speaking 



INJUSTICE OF ATTBIBUTING BAD MOTIVES. 95 

of a Hying person, to express the difference with 
modesty. I ought to have taken care also not to fall 
into one of the very prejudices I was reproving, and 
think ill or well of people in proportion as they dif- 
fered or agreed with me in politics. Walter Scott 
saw the good of mankind in a Tory or retrospective 
point of view. I saw it from a Whig, a Radical, or ( 
prospective one ; and though I still think he was 
mistaken, and though circumstances have shown that 
the world think so too, I ought to have discovered, 
even by the writings which I condemned, that he 
was a man of a kindly nature ; and it would have 
become me to have given him credit for the same 
good motives, which I arrogated exclusively for my 
own side of the question. It is true, it might be 
supposed, that I should have advocated that side with 
less ardour, had I been more temperate in this kind 
of judgment ; but I do not think so. Or if I had, 
the want of ^dour would probably have been com- 
pensated by the presence of qualities, the absence of 
which was injurious to its good effect. At all events, 
I am now of opinion, that whatever may be the im- 
mediate impression, a cause is advocated to the most 
permanent advantage by persuasive, instead of pro- 
voking manners ; and certain I am, that whether this 
be the case or not, no human being, be he the best 
and wisest of his kind, much less a confident young 
man, can be so sure of the result of his confidence. 



96 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

as to warrant the substitution of his will and pleasure 
in that direction, for the charity which befits his 
common modesty and his participation of error. 

It is impossible for me, in other respects, to regret 
the war I had with the Tories. I rejoice in it as far 
as I can rejoice at anything painful to myself and 
others, and I am paid for the consequences in what 
I have lived to see ; nay, in the respect and regrets 
of the best of my enemies. But I am sorry, that in 
aiming wounds which I had no right to give, I can- 
not deny that I brought on myself others which they 
had still less right to inflict ; and I make the amends 
of this confession, not only in return for what they 
have expressed themselves, but in justice to the feel- 
ings which honest men of aU parties experience as 
they advance in life, and when they look back 
calmly upon their common errors. 

*' I shall put this book in my pocket," said Walter 
Scott to Murray, after he had been standing a while 
at his counter, reading the Story of Rimini. 

*^ Pray do,'' said the publisher. The copy of the 
book was set down to the author in the bookseller's 
account, as a present to Walter Scott. Walter 
Scott was beloved by his friends ; the author of the 
Story of Rimini was an old offender, personal as well 
as political ; and hence the fury with which they fell 
on him in their new publication. 

Gifford, in his Baviad and MoBviad, speaking of 



ATTACKS ON PRIVATE LIFE. 97 

a dally paper called the Worldy had said, " In this 
paper were given the earliest specimens of those un- 
qualified and audacious attacks on all private cha- 
racter, which the town first railed at for their quaint- 
ness, then tolerated for their absurdity, and now that 
other papers, equally wicked and more intelligible, 
have ventured to imitate it, will have to lament to 
the last hour of British liberty." 

This close of Gifford's remark is one of his common- 
places, — a conventional cadence and turn of words. 
Calumny has been out of fashion for some time. 
But the example he speaks of was infectious in 
those days ; and curiously enough, it was destined to 
be followed up, and carried to excess, by his own side 
of the question. It is to the honour of the Whigs 
and Kadicals, that they went to no such extremities, 
even during the height of the warfare. The Priest- 
leys, Aikins, and Gilbert Wakefields, were in too 
philosophic and suffering a minority for it; Mont- 
gomery the poet (who edited the Sheffield Iris), had 
too much religion for it ; Cobbett, with all his viru- 
lence, appears never to have thought of it ; Hazlitt, 
though his portrait-painting tempted him into minor 
personalities, disdained it ; and all the notice (as far as 
I am aware) which any liberal journal took of matters 
of private life, the Examiner included, was confined to 
circumstances that were forced on the public attention 
by their connection with matters of state ; as in the 

VOL. II. H 



'98 UFE OF LEI«lfi HU^T. 

jadtamlses of the Duke of Yoi^% mistress^ who tra^ 
•ficked ill cOimiusaoDS, and of poor foolish Queen Coro- 
4iii6^ who WBA victimized bj an unworthy husband* 

.Every party has b right side and a wrong. The 
tight side of Whiggism^ Radicalism^ or the love of 
liberty^ is the love of justice ; the wish to see £Eii]> 
{ilay to all men^ and the advancement of knowledge 
and competence. The wrong side is the wish to puH 
down those abovte us, mstead of the desire of raising 
those who are below. The right side of Toryism is 
the love of order^ and the disposition to reverence 
and personal attachment ; the wrong side is the lovie 
®f power for power's sake, and tiie determination to 
snaintain it in the teeth of all that is reasonable and 
humane. A strong spice of superstition, generated 
by the habit of success, tended to confuse the right 
amd wrox^ sides of Toryism, in minds not otherwise 
QEUijust or ungenerotEs. They seemed to imagine, 
that heaven and earth would ^^come togedter,^ if 
the supposed favountes of Providence were to be 
considered as favourites no longer; and hence thB 
anl)ounded ficense which they gave to their resent- 
ment, and the strange self^pernxission of a man Uke 
Walter Scott, not only to lament over the progress 
^society) us if tibe future had been ordained only to 
^rry on the past, "but to countenance the border-like 
lorages of his friends into provinces which they had mo 
business to invade^ ftnd to speculate upon still greater 



N 



S 



PEBSDVAL MISBEPB£6£ErrATI0N. 99 

organizatioBS of tiiem, which ciicumstanceB^ kickily 
for Ma &in^ prer^eiited. I fJlude to the intended 
fi^taUisfament o£ a journal, wlucfa, as it never existed, 
.it is no longer necesBary to name. 

Headers in these kindlier days of criticism have no 
xono^tion of the extent to -which personal hostility 
allowed itself to be transpcnrted, m the periodicals 
t)f those tknes. Personal habits, appearances, con- 
nections, domesticities, nothing was safe from mis- 
representations, begun peihaps in the gaiety of a 
saturnalian license, but gradually carried to an excess 
which would have been ludicrous, had it not some- 
times produced tra^cal consequences. It threatened 
t^ great many more, and scattered, meantime, a great 
deal of wretchedness among unoffending a^ weU as 
offending persons, sometimes in proportion to the 
<delicacy which hindered them from exculpating 
themselves, and which could only have vindicated 
one portion of a fannly by sacrificing another. I 
was 80 caricatured, it seems, among the rest, upon 
matters great and small (for I did not «ee a tenth 
part of what was said of me), that persons, on sub- 
Bequently becoming acquainted with me, sometimes 
expressed their surprise at finding me no other than 
I was in face, dress, manners, and very walk ; to say 
nothing of the conjugality which they found at my 
fireside, and the affection which I had the happiness 
of "enjoying among my friends in general. I never 

H 2 



I 
T 



100 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

retaliated in the same way; firsts because I had 
never been taught to respect it, even by the jests of 
Aristophanes; secondly, because I observed the 
sorrow it caused both to right and wrong ; thirdly, 
because it is impossible to know the truth of any 
story if related of a person, without hearing all the 
parties concerned; and fourthly, because, while 
people thought me busy with politics and conten- 
tion, I was almost always absorbed in my books and 
verses, and did not, perhaps, sufficiently consider the 
worldly consequences of the indulgence. 

The quarrels of authors, and the scandals which 
they have caused one another, were, unfortimately, 
not new to the reading part of the public, though the 
tone of hostility had hardly before been exceeded, 
except in religious controversy, and in the disputes 
between some of the early writers of Italy. " The 
life of a wit," said Steele, **is a warfare upon earth." 
He himself was called by an enemy, the *' vilest of 
mankind ;" upon which he said, in the gaiety of an 
honest heart, that ** it would be a glorious world if 
he was." Even Steele, so exasperatmg is this kind 
of warfare, allowed himself to be provoked into per- 
sonalities. Swift abounded in it, though he lived in 
one of the most perilous of ** glass-houses," and 
miraculously escaped retribution ; probably from the 
very pity which he denied. But why multiply ex- 
amples on this painful subject? Clarke and Cud- 



CHARACTER OP WALTER SCOTT. 101 

worth have been called *^ atheists"; and Fenelon, 
who was *^ only a little lower than the angels," a 
** ferocious brute!" I do not pretend to compare 
myself with the least of such men ; and I am willing 
to have paid the penalty of what was really faulty 
in me, in suffering for what was not : but as I do 
not claim to be considered better than my neighbours, 
or to have been so at any time, so I may be allowed 
to comfort myself with thinking I am no worse. I 
may even presume so far in copying the jovial self- 
reconcilement of Steele, as to believe that the world 
would be no very great vale of tears, if all the men 
in it were no worse disposed. 

If Sir Walter Scott was a poet of a purely con- 
ventional order, warmed with a taste for old books, 
and if he was a critic more agreeable than subtle, 
and a bitter and not very large-minded politician, 
imwiUing, and perhaps unable, to turn his eyes from 
the past to the future, and to look with patience on 
the prospects of the many, he was a man of singular 
and admirable genius in the points in which he ex- 
celled, great in some respects, and charming almost 
in all. I beg leave to think that he did not possess 
that attribute of genius, which is said to partake of 
the feminine as well as the masculine ; if feminine 
only it be to excel in sweet as well as strong, to be 
musical and graceful, and be able to paint women 
themselves; and I will not do such discredit to hia 



IQi LIFE OF LEIGH 7SSVWV. 

memory^ im this: or in ODjr mascaline respect, a? to 
repeat the compaarisona of him with Shakspeare^ whor 
painted both women and men to a&nmition, and was 
a great poet, and a profound um^^raaHst, and ex- 
celled as much in nature as in manners i fer cer- 
tainly Scott was in aH these respects (and rare is the* 
excellence that can be put even to such a disadvan- 
tage) but a half, or even a third or fourth kmd^ of 
Shakspear^ with all the poei^ (so to speak) takes 
out of him^ and aU the expredsion and the quotability 
besides ; Sir Waher being, perhi^, the least ^notr^ 
able for sententionsnesa or wit, or any other menaor^ 
able brevity, in the whole circle of illustrious writers^ 
But he was an agreeaUe and kindly bi(^rapher, a 
most entertaining selector from history, an exquisite 
antiquary^ a chaarming companion, m wann4iearted 
firiend, a good father, husband, and man ; and thougb 
his navels^ as works of art and style, were inferior to 
Fielding, and I thmk it was a want of imagination 
in laim, and a self-abasement, to wish to build a great 
house and be a feudal lord|^ instead of being content 
to write about houses and lords, and Uring among ui9 
all to Idiis day in a coitage that st^ would have been 
a shrine for princes to visit ;. yet, assuredly, he was 
tiie most wonderful combiner o£ the novel and ro^ 
mance that ever existed* He was Shakspearian in 
the abundance and variety of his characters, nnsur* 
passed, if ever equalled, in the sub^antial flow of 



AUTHOB'S F£££.IN€;3 WITH BE&ABD 10 SCOTT. 103( 

his p&a ; and in ff^ajLe of admkable Bninis and delights 
fal Thomson, and aQ the historical and philosophical 
names of Edinburgh diwring the laat and present cen«- 
tmy^ was upon the whole the greatest writer that 
Scotland has prodnoed. 

It can be of no consequence to the memoiy ef 
such a man what I said or thought of him^ whether 
before hia death or after; but for mj own aake^. 
since I am forced to speak of such things in a w<xrh 
like the presentu I may be allowed to stat^ tba^: 
whatever hostility I was forced to maintain with hi^r 
politics^ and so far with himseli^ I had the pleasure 
of expressing my regret for thc^ mistakes which I had 
made about him^ long before I experienced their ill 
effects. I wiB add^ that long after those effects, an<| 
when he was lying sick in Londqn on bis way to hia, 
laat home, I called every morning at his door (ano- 
nymously ; for I doubted whether my name would 
please him) to fimush a respeetM buBeiin of Im 
beahb to a daily paper, in which I suggested ita 
appearance ; and I will not eonceal^t that as I loved 
the humanities in H» wonderful pages^ in spite of the 
polities which aocompswed them, so I mourned foi: 
his closing days, and shed tears at his death. 

To return to the Feast of the Poeta. I offended 
all the critics of th^ old or French school, by object-^ 
ing ta the monotony ef Pope's yersifieation, and all 
the critics of the tow or Gemaawi ^h^ol^ by laughing 



' / 



104 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

at Wordsworth, with whose writings I was then un- 
acquainted, except through the medium of his de- 
riders. On reading him for myself, I became such 
an admirer, that Lord Byron accused me of making 
him popular upon town. I had not very well 
pleased Lord Byron himself, by counting him in- 
ferior to Wordsworth. Indeed, I offended almost 
everybody whom I noticed; some by finding any fault 
at all with them; some, by not praising them on their 
favourite {>oints; some, by praising others on any 
point ; and some, I am afraid, and those among the 
most good-natured, by needlessly bringing them on 
the carpet, and turning their very good-nature into 
a subject for caricature. Thus I introduced Mr. 
Hayley, whom I need not have noticed at all, as he 
belonged to a by-gone generation. He had been 
brought up in the courtesies of the old school of man- 
ners, which he ultra-polished and rendered caressing, 
after the fashion of my Arcadian friends of Italy ; and 
as the poetry of the Triumphs of Temper was not as 
vigorous in style as it was amiable in its moral and 
elegant in point of fancy, I chose to sink his fancy 
and his amiableness, and' to represent him as nothing 
but an effeminate parader of phrases of endear- 
ment and pickthank adulation. I looked upon him 
as a sort of powder-puff of a man, with no real 
manhood in him, but fit only to suffocate people with 
his frivolous vanity, and be struck aside with con- 



PEBSONAL VIGOUR OF HAYLEY. 105 

tempt. I had not yet learned, that writers may be 

very *^ strong" and huffing on paper, while feeble on 

other points, and, vice versa, weak in their metres, 

while they are strong enough as regards muscle. 

I remember my astonishment, years afterwards, on 

finding that the *^ gentle Mr. Hayley," whom I had 

taken for 

" A puny insect, shivering at a breeze," 

was a strong-built man, famous for walking in the 
snow before daylight, and possessed of an intrepidity 
as a horseman amounting to the reckless. It is not 
improbable, that the feeble Hayley, during one of 
his equestrian passes, could have snatched up the 
*^ vigorous" Giffi^rd, and pitched him over the hedge 
into the next field. 

Having thus secured the enmity of the Tory critics 
north and south, and the indifference (to say the 
least of it) of the gentlest lookers on, it fell to the 
lot of the better part of my impulses, to lose me the 
only counteracting influence which was offered me 
in the friendship of the Whigs. I had partaken 
deeply of Whig indignation at the desertion of their 
party by the Prince Regent. The Be/lector con- 
tained an article on his Royal Highness, bitter 
accordingly, which bantered, among other absurdities, 
a famous dinner given by him to *^ one hundred and 
fifty particular friends." There was a real stream 
of water running down the table at this dinner. 



106 LIFB OF LSU»H HUNT. 

stocked with gold fisL It had bttnks of mos& and 
bridges of pasteboard ; the salt-cellars were panniarB 
borne bj '^ golden asses "^ everything^ in short, was 
as unlike the (finners now given by the sovereign, m 
point of taste and good sense, as effeminacy is dUk^ 
rent fixun womanhood; and ike Reflectory in a parody 
of the complaint of the shepherd, described how 

^' Despairing, beside a clear stream, 
The bust of a cod-fish was laid; 
And while a fiUse taste ma hii theme, 
A draxner supported his head^** 

A daj or two after the appearance of this article, 
I met in the street the late estimable Blanco White, 
whom I had the pleasure of being acquainted with. 
He told me of the amusement it had given at Hot- 
land House ; and added, that Lord Holland would be 
glad to see me among his friends there, and that he 
(Blanco White) was commissioned to say so. 

I did not doubt fEHT asi instant, that anything but 
the most disinterested kindness and good^-nature die^ 
tated the invitation which was thus made me. Tt 
was impossible, at anj future time, that I could 
speak with greater respect and admiration of his. 
lordship, than I had been in the habit of doing 
already. ^N^ever had an unconstitutional or illiberal 
measure taken place in the House of Lords, but his 
protest was sure to appear against it ; and this, and 
his elegant literature and reputation for hospitality. 



INVITAXIOK TO HQLLAl^l>-HaUSE. 107 

hud completely won my keort. At t^ same time, 
I did not look upon the invitation aa any return for 
this enthnsiaam. I considered his lordship (and now 
at this moment consider him) as having been as free 
from every personal motive as myself; and this 
absence of aH suspicion, prospective or retrospective, 
enabled me to feel the more confident and consoled 
in the answer wbich I feh bound to make to his 
courtesy* 

I said to Mr. Bkmco White, that I could not suf- 
ficiently express my sense of the honour that his lord- 
ship was pleased to do me ; that there was not a man 
in England at whose table I should be prouder or 
happier to sit; that I was fortunate in having a con- 
veyer of the invitation,, who would know how to be- 
Heve what I said, and to make a true representation of 
it ; and that with akaost any other person, I should 
fear to be thougkt gmhy of immodesty and presump- 
tion, in not hastening to avail myself of so great a 
kindness ; but that the more I admired and loved the 
character of Lord Holland, the less Z dared to become 
personally acquainted with him; that being a far 
weaker person than he gave me credit for bemg, it 
would be difficult for me to eat the mutton and 
drink the claret of such a man, without falling into 
any opinion into whick his conscience might induce 
him to lead me; and that not having a single per- 
sonal acquaintance^ even among what was called my 



108 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

own party (the Radicals), his lordship's goodness 
would be the more easily enabled to put its kindest 
and most indulgent construction on the misfortune 
which I was obliged to undergo, in denying myself 
the delight of his society. 

I do not say that these were the very words, but 
they convey the spirit of what I said to Mr. Blanco 
White; and I should not have doubted his giving 
them a correct report, even had no evidence of it 
followed. But there did; for Lord Holland cour- 
teously sent me his publications, and never ceased, 
while he lived, to show me all the kindness in his 
power. 

Of high life in ordinary, it is little for me to say 
that I might have had a surfeit of it, if I pleased. 
Circumstances, had I given way to them, might have 
rendered half my existence a round of it. I might 
also have partaken no mean portion of high life ex- 
traordinary. And very charming is its mixture of 
softness and strength, of the manliness of its taste and 
the urbanity of its intercourse. I have tasted, if not 
much of it, yet some of its very essence, and I cherish, 
and am grateful for it at this moment. What I have 
said, therefore, of Holland House, is mentioned imder 
no feelings, either of assumption or servility. The 
invitation was made, and declined, with an equal 
spirit of faith on both sides in far better impulses. 

Far, therefore, am I from supposing, that the 



EDINBUEGH BE VIEW. 109 

silence of the Whig critics respecting me was owing 
to any hostile influence which Lord Holland would 
have condescended to exercise. Not being among 
the visitors at Holland House, I dare say I was not 
thought of; or if I was thought of, I was regarded 
as a person who, in shunning Whig connection, and, 
perhaps, in persisting to advocate a reform towards 
which they were cooling, might be supposed indif- 
ferent to Whig advocacy. And, indeed, such was 
the case, till I felt the want of it. 

Accordingly, the Edinburgh Review took no notice 
of the Feast of the Poets, though my verses praised 
it at the expense of the Quarterly and though some 
of the reviewers, to my knowledge, liked it, and it 
echoed the opinions of others. It took no notice of the 
pamphlet on the Folfy and Danger of Methodism^ 
though the opinions in it were, perhaps, identical 
with its own. And it took as little of the Reformisfs 
Answer to an Article in the Edinburgh Review — a 
pamphlet which I wrote in defence of its own 
reforming principles, which it had lately taken it into 
its head to renounce as impracticable. Beform had 
been apparently given up for ever by its originators ; 
the Tories were increasing in strength every day; 
and I was left to battle with them as I could. Little 
did I suppose, that a time would come when I should 
be an Edinburgh Reviewer myself; when its former 
editor, agreeably to the dictates of his heart, would 



110 XIFE tXF XE2^H Hl^T. 

be one of the Idndest of mj friends ; and wbe& a 
tcadet of one of the greatest of the Whig houses, 
too young at &at time to possess more than a 
p]?oq)eotiYe influence^ would cany iihe reform from 
which his elders recoiled, and gift the prince-opposing 
Whig-Eadical with a pension, under the graoious 
countenance of a queen whom the Radical loves. 
I think the Edinburgh ^Review might have noticed 
my books a little oftener. I am «uFe it would have 
done me a great deal of worldly ^ood by it, and 
itself no harm in these progressing days of criticism. 
But I said nothing on the subject, and may have 
been &ought indi^rent 

Of Mr. Blanco White, thus brought to my recol- 
lection, a good <kal is known in oertain political and 
religions quarters; but it may be new to many 
ireaders, that he was an Anglo-Spaniard, who was 
forced to quit the Peninsula for his liberal opinions, 
and who died in his adopted ^country not long ago, 
after many years' endeavour to come to some positive 
faith within the Christian pale. At the time I 
knew him he had not long arrived from Spain, and 
was engaged, or about to be engaged, as tutor to tiie 
present I/ord Holland. Tho«^ English by name 
and origin, he was more of the Spaniard in appear- 
ance, being very-unEbe the portiait prefixed to his 
Life and Correspimdence. At least, he must have 
greatly altered from what lie was when I knew 



BECOLLECTIONS OP Bi^ANOO WHITE, 111 

bim, if that poitrak eyer resembled hinL He kad 
a long pale face> with pronuB^it dro^ni^ noee, 
anxious and somewhat 'Staniig e^es^ and a mouth 
turning dowti at the comeirs. I belierve there was 
Jiot an honesterman in the world, or one ef an acuter 
ontelleot, short of the .misdiief that had ibeen done it 
hy a melandioly tonpemment and a superstitious 
trmning. It is distressifigy in the work alluded to, 
to see what a tormeot tbe intelleot may be rendered 
to itself by its own sfaaiptiess, in its efforts to mate 
its way to conclusions, equally unnecessary to dis- 
<^oyer and impossible to be arrived at. 

But, perhap99 there was something naturally self- 
tormenting in the estate of Mr. White's blood. The 
.first time I met him at a friend's house, he was 
6ufferii|g under the calumnies of his countrymen ; and 
though of extremely gentle manners in ordinary, he 
almost startled me by suddenly turning round, and 
paying, in one of those incorrect foreign sentences 
which force one to be relieved while they startle, ** If 
they proceed more^ I will go mad." 

In like manner^ while he was giving me the 
JloUand-house invitaticm, and teUing me of the 
amusement derived &om the pathetic cod's head 
and shoulders, be looked so like the piscatory bust 
whi<^ he was describing, that with aU my respect 
£6r his patriotism and his sorrows, I could not help 
partaking of the unlucky tendency of my country- 



112 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

men to be amused, in spite of myself, with the 
involuntary burlesque. 

Mr. White, on his arrival in England, was so 
anxious a student of the language, that he noted 
down in a pocket-book every phrase which struck 
him as remarkable. Observing the words " Cannon 
Brewery" on premises then standing in Knights- 
bridge, and taking the figure of a cannon which was 
over them, as the sign of the commodity dealt in, he 
put down as a nicety of speech, " The English brew 
cannon." 

Another time, seeing maid-servants walking with 
children in a nursery-garden, he rejoiced in the 
progeny-loving character of the people among whom 
he had come, and wrote down, ** Public gardens 
provided for nurses, in which they take the children 
to walk." 

This gentleman, who had been called " Blanco" in 
Spain — ^which was a translation of his family name 
*^ White," and who afterwards wrote an excellent 
English book of entertaining letters on the Peninsula, 
under the Graeco-Spanish appellation of Don Leu- 
cadio Doblado (White Doubled) — was author of a 
sonnet which Coleridge pronounced to be the best in 
the English language. I know not what Mr. Words- 
worth said on this judgment. Perhaps he wrote 
fifty sonnets on the spot to disprove it. And in 
truth it was a bold sentence, and probably spoken 



BLANCO white's SONNET, 113 

out of a kindly, though not conscious, spirit of 
exaggeration. The sonnet, nevertheless, is truly 
beautiful. 

As I do not like to have such things referred to 
"without being shown them, in case I have not seen 
them before, I shall do as I would be done by, and 
lay it before the reader : — 

'* Mysterious night ! when our first parent knew 
Thee, from report divine, and heard thy name, 
Did he not tremble for this lovely frame, — 
This glorious canopy of light and blue ? 

Yet, *neath a curtain of translucent dew. 
Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame 
Hesperus, with the host of heaven, came. 
And, lo! creation widened in Man's view. 

Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed 
Within thy beams, O sun ! or who could find, 

Whilst fly, and leaf, and insect stood revealed. 
That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind ! 

Why do we then shun death with anxious strife ? 

If light can thus deceive, wherefore not life ?" 



K 



VOL, 11. 



114 LIFE OF XEIGH HUKT. 



CHAPTER XIIL 

THE BEGENT AND THE EXAMINEE. 

" The Prince on St. ^atricJ^s Day?^ — Indieiment for an attack on 
the Regefd in that article, — Present feelings of the writer on 
the subject. — Ueal sting of the offence in the article* — Sentence of 
the proprietors of the Examiner to an imprisonment for two 
years, — Their rejection of two proposals of compromise, — Lord 
Mlenborough, Mr, Garrow, and Mr, Justice Orose. 

EvEETTHiNG having been thus prepared by myself, 
as well as by others, for a good blow at the Examiner, 
the ministers did not fail to strike it. 

There was an annual dinner of the f rish on Saint 
Patrick's Day, at which the Prince of Wales's name 
used to be the reigning and rapturous toast, as that 
of the greatest friend they possessed in the United 
Kingdom. He was held to be the jovial advocate of 
liberality in all things, and sponsor in particular for 
concession to the Catholic claims. But the Prince 
of Wales, now become Prince Kegent, had retained 



PBESENT FEELINGS TOWARDS GEORGE IV. 115 

the Tory ministers of his father; he had broken 
life-long engagements; had violated his promises, 
particular as well as general, those to the Catholics 
among them ; and led in toto a different political life 
from what had been expected* The name, there- 
fore, which used to be hailed with rapture, was 
now, at the dinner in question, received with 
hisses. 

An article appeared on the subject in the Examiner; 
the attorney -general's eye was swiftly upon the 
article; and the result to the proprietors was two 
years' imprisonment, with a fine, to each, of five 
hundred pounds. I shall relate the story of my 
imprisonment a few pages onward. Much as it 
injured me, I cannot wish that I had evaded it, for I 
believe that it did good, and I should have suffered 
far worse in the self-abasement. Neither have I 
any quarrel, at this distance of time, with the Prince 
Regent ; for though his frivolity, his tergiversation, 
and his treatment of his wife, will not allow me to 
respect his memory, I am bound to pardon it as I do 
my own faults, in consideration of the circumstances 
which mould the character of every human being. 
Could I meet him in some odd comer of the Elysian 
fields, where charity had room for both of us, I 
should first apologize to him for having been the 
instrument in the hand of events for attacking a 
fellow-creature, and then expect to hear him avow 

I 2 



116 LIFE OF LEIGH HUKT. 

as hearty a regret for having injured myself, and 
unjustly treated his wife. 

Having made these acknowledgments, I here re- 
peat the article in which the libel appeared, in order 
that people may see how far it was excusable or 
otherwise under the circumstances, and whether the 
acknowledgments are sufficing. I would rather, for 
obvious reasons, both personal to myself and other- 
wise, have repeated nothing whatsoever against any 
individual of her Majesty's kindred, however diflFe- 
rently constituted from herself, or however strong 
and obvious the line which everybody can draw 
between portions of the same family at different 
periods of time, and under different circumstances of 
breeding and connection. A man may have had 
a quarrel with Charles the Second (many a man did 
have one), without bringing into question his loyalty 
to Queen Mary or Queen Anne. Nay, his loyalty 
may have been the greater, and was ; nor (as I have 
said elsewhere) could I have felt so much respect, 
and done my best to show it, for the good qualities 
of Queen Victoria, had I not been impressed in a 
different manner by the faults of her kinsmen. But 
having committed myself to the task of recording 
these events in the history of the Examiner,, I could 
not but render the narrative complete. 



THE examinee's ATTACK ON THE REGENT. 117 

THE PRINCE ON ST. PATRICK'S DAY. 

(^Examiner J No, 221 ; Sunday^ Mar, 22, 1812.) 

The Prince Regent is still in everybody's mouth ; and, 
unless he is as insensible to biting as to bantering, a delicious 
time he has of it in that remorseless ubiquity I If a person 
takes in a newspaper, the first thing he does, when he looks at 
it, is to give the old groan and say, ' Well ! what of the Prince 
Regent now!' If he goes out after breakfast, the first friend 
he meets is sure to begin talking about the Prince Regent ; and 
the two always separate with a shrug. He who is lounging 
along the street will take your arm, and turn back with you to 
expatiate on the Prince Regent; and he in a hurry, who is 
skimming the other side of the way, halloes out as he goes, 
* Fine things these, of the Prince Regent ! ' You can scarcely 
pass by two people talking together, but you shall hear the 
words * Prince Regent ; ' — * if the Prince Regent has done that, 
he must be — ^ or such as ' the Prince Regent and Lord Yar — ' 
the rest escapes in the distance. At dinner the Prince Regent 
quite eclipses the goose or the calFs-head; the tea-table, of 
course, rings of the Prince Regent ; if the company go to the 
theatre to see The Hypocrite^ or the new farce of Turn Out, 
they cannot help thinking of the Prince Regent ; and, as Dean 
Swift extracted philosophical meditation from a broomstick, so 
it would not be surprising if any serious person, in going to 
bed, should find in his very nightcap something to remind him 
of the merits of the Prince Regent. In short, there is no other 
subject but one that can at all pretend to a place in the atten- 
tion of our countrymen, and that is their old topic, the weather; 
their whole sympathies are at present divided between the 
Prince Regent and the barometer. 



118 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

" Nocte pluit tot& : redeunt spectacula man^ ; — 
Divisum imperium cum Jove CsBsar habet. 

YlBGIL. 

All night the weeping tempests blow ; * 

All day our state surpasseth show ; — 
Doubtless a blessed empire share 
The Prince of Wales and Prince of Air. 

But the ministerial journalists, and other creatures of 
Government, will tell you, that there is nothing in all this ; or 
rather, they will insist that it is to be taken in a good sense, 
and that the universal talk respecting the Prince Regent is 
highly to his advantage ; for it is to be remarked, that these 
gentlemen have a pleasant way of proving to us that we have 
neither eyes nor ears ; and would willingly persuade us in time, 
that to call a man an idiot or a profligate is subscribing to his 
wisdom and virtue ; — a logic, by-the^by, which enables us to 
discover how it is they turn their own reputation to account, 
and contrive to have so good an opinion of themselves. Thus, 
whenever they perceive an obnoxious sensation excited among 
the people by particular measures, they always affect to confine 
it to the organs by which it is expressed, and cry out against 
what they are pleased to term "a few fiictious individuals,*' who 
are represented as a craily set of fellows, that get their living 
by contradicting and disgusting everybody else ! How such a 
trade can be thriving, we aie not informed : it is certainly a 
very different one from their own, which, however it may 
disgust other people, succeeds by echoing and flattering the 
opinions of men in power. It is in vain that you refer them to 
human nature, and to the opinions that are naturally created 
by profligate rulers: they are not acquainted with human 
nature, and still less with any such rulers ; — ^it is in vain that 



THE examiner's ATTACK ON THE REGENT. 119 

yon refer them to companies ; — it is in Tain that yon refer them 
to popular meetings, to common-halls of their own. Be it bo, 
then; let ns compound with them, and agree to consider all 
direct political meetings as party assemblages, particularly those 
of the Reformists, who, whatever room they may occupy on 
the occasion, and whatever advocates they may possess £rom 
one end of the kingdom to another, shall be nothing but a few 
factious individuals, as contemptible for their numbers and 
public effect, as for their bad writing and worse principles. 
Nay, let us even resort on this occasion to persons, who, having 
but one great political object, unconnected with the abstract 
merits of party, persisted for so many years in expressing an 
ardent and hopeful attachment to the Prince Regent, and in 
positively shutting their eyes to such parts of his character as 
might have shaken their dependence upon him, looking only to 
his succession in the government as the day of their country's 
happiness, and caring not who should surround his throne, 
provided he would only be true to his own word. An assembly 
of such persons — such, at least, was their composition for the 
much greater part — met the other day at the Freemasons' 
Tavern, to celebrate the Irish anniversary of Saint Patrick; 
and I shall proceed to extract from the Morning Chronicle such 
passages of what passed on the occasion as apply to his Royal 
Highness, in order that the reader may see at once what is now 
thought of him, not by Whigs and Pittites, or any other party 
of the state, but by the fondest and most trusting of his fellow- 
subjects—by those whose hearts have danced at his name, who 
have caught from it inspiration to their poetry, patience to their 
afflictions, and hope to their patriotism. 

" The anniversary of this day — a day always precious in the 
estimation of an Irishman — was celebrated yesterday at the 
Freemasons* Tavern, by a numerous and. highly respectable 



120 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT, 

assemblage of individuals. The Marquis of Lansdowne pre- 
sided at the meeting, supported by the Marquis of Downshire, 
the Earl of Moira, Mr. Sheridan, the Lord Mayor, Mr. Sheriff 
Heygate, &c. &c. When the doth was removed, Non Nobis 
Domine was sung, after which the Marquis of Lansdowne, pre- 
mismg that the meeting was assembled for purposes of charity, 
rather than of party or political feeling, gave 'the health of 
the King,' which was drunk with enthusiastic and rapturous 
applause. This was followed by God save the King, and then 
the Noble Marquis gave 'the health of the Prince Regent,' 
which was drunk with partial applause, and loud and reiterated 
hisses. The next toast, which called forth great and continued 
applause, lasting nearly five minutes, was 'the Navy and 
Army.' " 

The interests of the Charity were then considered, and, after 
a procession of the children (a sight worth all the gaudy and 
hollow flourish of military and courtly pomps), a very hand- 
some collection was made from the persons present. Upon this, 
the toasts were resumed; and 'Lord Moira's health being 
drunk with loud and reiterated cheering,* his Lordship made a 
speech, in which not a word was uttered of the Regent. Here 
let the reader pause a moment, and consider what a quantity of 
meaning must be wrapped up in the silence of such a man with 
regard to his old companion and Prince. Lord Moira univer- 
sally bears the character of a man who is generous to a fault ; 
he is even said to be almost unacquainted with the language of 
denial or rebuke; and if this part of his character has been 
injurious to him, it has at least, with his past and his present 
experience, helped him to a thorough knowledge of the Prince's 
character. Yet this nobleman, so generous, so kindly aflec- 
tioned, so well experienced, — even he has nothing to say in 
favour of his old acquaintance. The Prince has had obligations 



THE examiner's ATTACK ON THE REGENT. 121 

fVom him, and therefore his Lordship feels himself boand, in 
gentlemanly feeling, to say nothing in his disparagement ; and, 
in spite of the additional tenderness which that very circum- 
stance would give him for the better side of his Royal Highnesses 
character, he feels himself bound in honesty to say nothing in 
his praise, — not a word, — not a syllable! No more need be 
observed on this point. His Lordship concluded with proposing 
the health of the Marquis of Lansdowne, who, upon receiving 
the applause of the company, expressed himself ' deeply sen- 
sible of such an honour coming from men whose national 
character it was to be generously warm in their praise, but not 
more generously warm than faithfully sincere.* This elegant 
compliment was justly receiyed, and told more perhaps than 
everybody imagined ; for those who are * faithfully sincere' in 
their praise are apt to be equally so in their censure, and thus 
the hisses bestowed were put on an equal footing of sincerity 
with the applause. The healths of the Vice-Presidents was 
then given, and after a short speech from Lord Mountjoy, and 
much anticipating clamour with * Mr. Sheridan's health,' Mr. 
Sheridan at length arose, and in a low tone of voice returned 
his thanks for the honourable notice by which so large a 
meeting of his countrymen thought proper to distinguish him. 
(Applause.) He had ever been proud of Ireland, and hoped 
that his country might never have cause to be ashamed of him. 
(^Applause,) Ireland never forgot those who did all they could 
do, however little that might be, in behalf of her best interests. 
All allusion to politics had been industriously deprecated by 
their noble Chairman. He was aware that charity was the 
immediate object of their meeting; but standing as he did 
before an assembly of his countrymen, he could not affect to 
disguise his conviction, that at the present crisis Ireland involved 
in itself every consideration dear to the best interests of the 



122 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

empire. (Hear, hear.) It was, therefore, that he was most 
anxious that nothing should transpire in that meeting cal- 
culated to injure those great objects, or to visit with undeserved 
censure the conduct of persons whose love to Ireland was as 
cordial and as zealous as it ever had been. He confessed 
frankly, that, knowing as he did the unaltered and unalterable 
sentiments of one illustrious personage towards Ireland, he 
could not conceal from the meeting that he had felt consi- 
derably shocked at the sulky coldness and surly discontent with 
which they had on that evening drank the health of the Prince 
Kegent. (Here we are sorry to observe that Mr. S. was inter- 
rupted by no very equivocal symptoms of disapprobation.) 
When silence was somewhat restored, Mr. Sheridan said that 
he knew the Prince Regent well — (hisses) — ^he knew his prin' 
ciples — (hisses) — they would, at least he hoped, give him 
credit for believing that he knew them when he said he did. 
(Applause,) He repeated, that he knew well the principles of 
the Prince Regent, and that so well satisfied was he that they 
were all that Ireland could wish, that he (Mr. Sheridan) hoped, 
that as he had lived up to them, so he might die in the prin- 
ciples of the Prince Regent. (Hisses and applause.) He 
should be sorry personally to have merited their disapproba- 
tion. (General applause^ with cries of 'Change the subject, 
and speak out.") He could only assure them, that the Prince 
Regent remained unchangeably true to those principles. (Here 
the clamours became so loud and general that we could collect 
nothing more,) 

Although the company, however, refused to give a quiet 
hearing to Mr. Sheridan while he talked in this manner, yet the 
moment he sat down they rose up, it seems, and, as a mark that 
they were not personally offended, gave him a general clap :— 
the Chronicle says it was *to mark their peculiar respect and 



THE examiner's ATTACK ON THE REGENT. 123 

esteem for him ;* and as the rest of the above report is taken 
from that paper, it is fit that this encomiastic assertion should 
accompany it; but, however the reporter might choose to inter- 
pret it, there appears to be no reason for giving it a livelier con- 
struction than the one before mentioned. We know well enough 
what the Irish think of Mr. Sheridan. They believe he has 
been, and is, their friend ,* and on that account their gratitude 
will always endeavour to regard him as complacently as pos- 
sible, and to separate what his masters can do from what he 
himself cannot :~it even prevents them, perhaps, from discern- 
ing the harm which a man of his lax turn of thinking, in 
countenancing the loose principles of another, may have done 
to the cause which he hoped to assist ; but they are not blind to 
his defects in general any more than the English ; and afler the 
terrible example that has been furnished us for the bad effects 
of those principles, * peculiar respect and esteem* are words not 
to be prostituted to every occasion of convivial good temper. It 
is too late to let a contingent and partial good-vrill exaggerate in 
this manner, and throw away the panegyrics that belong to 
first-rate worthiness. 

" But to return to the immediate subject. Here is an assembly 
of Irishmen, respectable for their rank and benevolence, and 
desirous, for years, of thinking well of the Prince of Wales, 
absolutely loading with contempt the very mention of his 
^ principles,* and shutting their ears against a repetition of the 
word — so great is their disdain and their indignation. Prin- 
ciples ! How are we to judge of principles but by conduct ? 
And what, in the name of common-sense, does Mr. Sheridan 
mean by saying that the Prince adheres to his principles ? Was 
it a principle then in his Royal Highness not to adhere to his 
professions and promises ? And is it in keeping to such a prin- 
ciple, that Mr. Sheridan informs us and * the public in general,' 



124 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

that he means to live and die in the principles of his master ? 
What did Lord Moira, the Marquis Lansdowne, or the Duke of 
Devonshire say to these praises ? Did they anticipate or echo 
them ? Ko ; they kept a dead silence ; and for this conscien- 
tiousness they are reproved by the ministerial papers, which 
pathetically tell us how good his royal highness has been to the 
charity, and what a shame it was to mingle political feelings 
with the objects of such a meeting I Political candour, they 
mean : had it been political flattery, they would not have cared 
what had been said of the Prince Regent, nor how many foreign 
questions had been discussed. It might have been proper in the 
meeting, had it been possible, to distinguish between the Prince 
of Wales as a subscriber to the Irish charity, and the Prince of 
Wales as a clencher of Irish chains; but when the health of 
such a personage is proposed to such a meeting, political con- 
siderations are notoriously supposed to be implied in the manner 
of its reception, and had the reception been favourable, the 
ministerialists would have been as eager to take advantage of it 
as they now are to take umbrage. So much for the inevitable 
disclosure of truth, in one way or another ; and thus has the 
very first utterance of the public opinion, viva voce, been loud 
and unequivocal in rebuke of the Prince Regent. 

It is impossible, however, before the present article is closed, 
to resist an observation or two on the saddest of these ministerial 
papers. Our readers are aware that the Morning Post, above 
all its rivals, has a faculty of carrying its nonsense to a pitch 
that becomes amusing in spite of itself, and affords relief to 
one's feelings in the very excess of its inflictions. Its paper of 
Thursday last, in answer to a real or pretended correspondent, 
contained the following paragraph : — *• The publication of the 
article of a friend, relative to the ungenerous, unmanly conduct, 
displayed at a late public meeting, though evidently well meant, 



THE examiner's ATTACK ON THE REGENT. 125 

ivould only serve to give consequence to a set of worthless 
beings, whose imbecile efforts are best treated witH sovereign 
contempt.* Worthless beings and sovereign contempt! Who 
would not suppose that some lofty and exemplary character 
was here speaking of a set of informers and profligates ? One, 
at any rate, whose notice was an honour, and whose silent dis- 
dain would keep the noisest of us in obscurity ? Yet this is the 
paper, notorious above all others in the annals of perfidy, 
scandal, imbecility, and indecency— the paper which has gone 
directly from one side to another, and which has levied contri- 
butions upon this very Prince, which has become a by- word for 
its cant and bad writing, and which has rioted in a doggrel, an 
adulation, and a ribaldry, that none but the most prostituted 
pens would consent to use— the paper, in short, of the Stuarts, 
the Benjafields, the Byrnes, and the Eosa Matildas I and this 
delicious compound is to ' give consequence * to a society, con- 
sisting of the most respectable Irishmen in London, with rank 
and talent at their head I Help us, benevolent compositors, to 
^me mark or other — some significant and comprehensive 
index— that shall denote a laugh of an hour*s duration. If any 
one of our readers should not be so well acquainted as another 
with the taste and principles of this bewitching Post^ he may be 
curious to see what notions of praise and political justice are 
entertained by the persons whose contempt is so overwhelming. 
He shall have a specimen, and when he is reading it, let him 
lament, in the midst of his laughter, that a paper, capable of such 
sickening adulation, should have the power of finding its way 
to the table of an English prince, and of helping to endanger 
the country by polluting the sources of its Government. The 
same page, which contained the specimen of contempt above* 
mentioned, contained also a set of wretched commonplace lines 
in French, Italian, Spanish, and English, /}/era% addressing the 



126 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

Prince Begent in the following terms, among others : — * Yon 
are the Glory of the people ' — ' You are the Protector of the 
arts^ — *You are the MeetBnas of the age* — 'Wherever you 
appear you conquer all hearts^ wipe away tears, excite desire 
and love^ and win beauty towards yon* — *Yoa breathe 
eloquenee"* — ^^You inspire the Graces* — 'You are Adonis in 
loveliness /* Thus gifted,*' it proceeds in English,— 

* Thus gifted with each grace of mind, 
Bom to delight and bless mankind ; 
Wisdom, with Pleasure in her train, 
Great prince I shall signalize thy reign : 
To Honour, Virtue, Truth allied ; 
The nation*s safeguard and its pride ; 
With monarchs of immortal fame « 

Shall bright renown enrol the name.* 

" What person, unacquainted with the true state of the case, 
would imagine, in reading these astounding eulogies, that this 
' Glory of the people* was the subject of millions of shrugs and 
reproaches I— that this * Protector of the arts* had named aP 
wretched foreigner his historical painter, in disparagement or in 
ignorance of the merits of his own countrymen I — that this 
* Mecwnas of the age* patronized not a single deserving writer t 
—that this * Breather of eloquence* could not say a few decent 
extempore words — ^if we are to judge, at least, from what he said 
to his regiment on its embarkation for Portugal ! — that this 
' Conqueror of hearts^ was the disappointer of hopes I — that 
this * Exciter of desire * [bravo I Messieurs of the Post /] — this 
*' Adonis in loveliness* was a corpulent man of fifty !— in short, 
that this delightful^ blissful^ unse, pleasurable, honourable, vir" 
tuous, true, and immortal prince, was a violator of his word, a 
libertine over head and ears in disgrace, a despiser of domestic 
ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has 



THE examinee's ATTACK ON THE KEGENT. 127 

just closed half a oentoiy without one single claim on the 
gratitude of his country, or the respect of posterity ! 

These are hard truths; hut are they not truths? And 
have we not suffered enough — are we not now suffering hit- 
terly — from the disgusting flatteries of which the ahove is a 
repetition f The miniisters may talk of the shocking holdness 
of the press, and may throw out their wretched warnings ahout 
interviews between Mr. Perdval and Sir Yicary Gibbs ; but let 
us inform them, that such vices as have just been enumerated 
are shocking to all Englishmen who have a just sense of the 
state of Europe ; and that he is a bolder man, who, in times 
like the present, dares to afford reason for the description. 
Would to God, the Examiner could ascertain that difficult, and 
perhaps undiscoverable, point which enables a public writer to 
keep clear of an appearance of the love of scandal, while he is 
hunting out the vices of those in power 1 Then should one 
paper, at least, in this metropolis help to rescue the nation from 
the charge of silently encouraging what it must publicly rue ; 
%nd the Sardanapalus who is now afraid of none but informers, 
be taught to shake, in the midst of his minions, in the very 
drunkenness of his heart, at the voice of honesty. But if this 
he impossible, still there is one benefit which truth may derive 
from adulation— one benefit which is favourable to the former 
in proportion to the grossness of the latter, and of which none 
of his flatterers seem to be aware — the opportunity of contra- 
dicting its assertions. Let us never forget this advantage, 
which adulation cannot help giving us ; and let such of our 
readers as are inclined to deal insincerely with the great from a 
fiilse notion of policy and of knowledge of the world, take warn- 
ing from what we now see of the miserable effects of courtly 
disguise, paltering, and profligacy. Flatteiy in any shape is 
unworthy a man and a gentleman ; but political flattery is almost 



128 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

a request to be made slayes. If we would haye the great to be 
what they ought, we must find some means or other to speak of 
them as they are.** 

This article^ no doubt, was very bitter and con- 
temptuous ; therefore, in the legal ^ense of the term, 
very libellous ; the more so, inasmuch as it was very 
true. There will be no question about the truth 
of it, at this distance of time, with any class of 
persons, unless, possibly, with some few of the old 
Tories, who may think it was a patriotic action in 
the Prince to have displaced the Whigs for their 
opponents. But I believe, that under aU the cir- 
cumstances, there are few persons indeed nowa- 
days, of my class, who will not be of opinion, that, 
bitter as the article was, it was more than sufficiently 
avenged by two years' imprisonment and a fine of a 
thousand pounds. For it did but express what all 
the world were feeling, with the exception of the 
Prince's once bitterest enemies, the Tories them- 
selves, then newly become his friends ; and its very 
sincerity and rashness, had the Prince possessed 
greatness of mind enough to think so, might have fur- 
nished him such a ground for pardoning it, as would 
have been the best proof he could have given us of 
our having mistaken him, and turned us into blush- 
ing and grateful friends. An attempt to bribe us 
on the side of fear, did but further disgust us. A 
free and noble waiving of the punishment would 



CONFESSIONS OF BEGRET. 129 

have bowed our hearts into regret. We should have 
found in it the evidence of that true generosity of 
nature paramount to whatsoever was frivolous or 
appeared to be mean, which his flatterers claimed for 
him, and which would have made us doubly blush 
for the formal virtues to which he seemed to be 
attached, when, in reality, nothing would have better 
pleased us than such a combination of the gay and 
the magnanimous. I say doubly blush, for I now 
blush at ever having been considered, or rather been 
willing to be considered, an advocate of any sort of 
conventionality, unqualified by liberal exceptions and 
prospective enlargement ; and I am sure that my 
brother, had he been living, who was one of the best 
natured and most indulgent of men, would have joined 
with me in making the same concession; though 
I am bound to add, that, with all his good sense, 
and all his indulgence of others, I have no reason to 
believe that he had ever stood in need of that pardon 
for even conventional license, from the necessity of 
which I cannot pretend to have been exempt. I had 
never, to be sure, affected to denounce poor Mrs. 
Robinson and others, as Gifford had done ; nor did 
I afterwards condescend to make concessions about 
poor Queen Caroline, while I denounced those who 
had no right to demand them. AU the airs which I 
gave myself as a censor were over men; and I 
should have blushed indeed at any time, to have 

VOL. II. K 



130 LIFB OF LEIGH HUNT. 

giyen myself those, had the men combined anything 
like generosity with license. 

I now think, that although for many reasons con- 
nected with a long career of literature as well as 
politics, and for the general spirit of both, I fully 
deserve the pension which a liberal minister and a 
gracious queen have bestowed on me, I had no 
right in particular instances, and in my own per- 
son, to demand more virtues from any human being 
than nature and education had given him, or to 
denounce his faults without giving him the excuse 
of those circumstances, and freely confessing my 
own. I think that the world is best served in any 
respect, in proportion as we dig into the first roots 
of error, and cease blaming the poor boughs which 
they injure. No man has any more right than 
another to 

^' Compound for sms he is indined to, 
By damning those he has no mind to.** 

If I thought the Prince of Wales a coxcomb in one 
sense of the word, he might have been fully justified 
in thinking me one in another. If I seemed to de* 
mand, that his life should be spotless, he might 
reasonably have turned upon me, and asked whether 
I was spotless myself. If I disliked him because he 
was selfish and ungenerous, he might have asked 
where was the generosity of forgetting the luxury 



REAL STING OF THE ATTACK. 131 

in which he had been brought up, my own poverty 
of nurture on the other hand, and the master, who 
was ready to flog instead of flatter me, whenever I 
did not behave as I ought. 

It is understood, after all, that the sting of the 
article lay not in the gravest portion of it, but in 
the lightest; — in the banter about the *^ Adonis" and 
the " corpulent gentleman of fifty." The serious 
remarks might have been endured, on the assumption 
that they themselves were an assumption ; but to be 
touched where the claim to admiration was at once 
obvious and preposterous, was intolerable. Hence 
the general impression was, and is, that we were 
sent to prison, because we said the Prince Regent 
was fat. Now, the truth is, I had no wish to speak 
of his fat, or to allude to his person in any way. 
Nor did I intend even to banter him in a spirit of 
levity. I was very angry with the flattery, and 
ridicule was the natural answer to it. It was natu- 
ral enough in the Prince not to like to give up his 
fine dressing and his youthful pretensions ; for he 
was not wise, and he had been very handsome ; — 

** The glass of fashion, and the mould of form." 

But his adulators had no such excuse; and I was 
provoked to see them encouraging the weakest of 
his mistakes, when the most important questions of 
state were demanding his attention, and meeting, I 

K 2 



it, 



132 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

thought, with nothing but the unhandsomest tergiver- 
sation. 

I have spoken of an attempt to bribe us. We 
were given to understand, through the medium of 
a third person, but in a manner emphaticallj serious 
and potential, that if we would abstain in future 
from commenting upon the actions of the royal 
personage, means would be found to prevent our 
going to prison. The same offer was afterwards 
repeated, as far as the payment of a fine was con- 
cerned, upon our going thither. I need not add, 
that we declined both. We do not mean to afilrm, 
that these offers came directly or indirectly from the 
quarter in which they might be supposed to origi- 
nate; but we know the immediate quarter from 
which they did come ; and this we may affirm, that 
of all the *^ two hundred and fifty particular friends," 
who dined on a former occasion at Carlton House, 
his Koyal Highness had not one more zealous or 
liberal in his behalf. 

The expectation of a prison was in one respect 
very formidable to me ; for I had been a long time 
in a bad state of health. I was suffering under the 
worst of those hypochondriacal attacks which I have 
described in a former chapter ; and when notice was 
given that we were to be brought up for judgment, 
I had just been advised by the physician to take 
exercise every day on horseback, and go down to 



BEHAVIOUR OF THE JUDGES. 133 

the sea-slde. I was resolved, however, to do no dis- 
grace either to the courage which I really possessed, 
or to the example set me by my excellent brother. 
I accordingly put my countenance in its best trim ; 
I made a point of wearing my best apparel; and 
descended into the legal arena to be sentenced gal- 
lantly. As an instance of the imagination which I 
am accustomed to mingle with everything, I was at 
that time reading a little work, to which Milton is 
indebted, the Comus of Erycius Puteanus ; and this, 
which is a satire on *' Bachusses and their revellers," 
I pleased myself with having in my pocket. 

It is necessary, on passing sentence for a libel, 
to read over again the words that composed it. This 
was the business of Lord EUenborough, who baffled 
the attentive audience in a very ingenious manner 
by affecting every instant to hear a noise, and calling 
upon the officers of the court to prevent it. Mr. 
Garrow, the attorney-general (who had succeeded 
Sir Vicary Gibbs at a very cruel moment, for the 
indictment had been brought by that irritable per- 
son, and was the first against us which took effect), 
behaved to us with a politeness that was considered 
extraordinary. Not so Mr. Justice Grose, who de- 
livered the sentence. To be didactic and old- 
womanish seemed to belong to his nature; but to 
lecture us on pandering to the public appetite for 
scandal, was what we could not so easily bear. My 



134 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

brother, as I had been the writer, expected me, per- 
haps, to be the spokesman; and speak I certtunlj 
should have done, had I not been prevented by the 
dread of that hesitation in my speech, to which I had 
been subject when a boy, and the fear of which (per- 
haps idly, for I hesitated at that time least among 
strangers, and very rarely do so at all) has been the 
main cause, perhaps, why I have appeared and acted 
in public less than any other public man. There is 
reason to think, that Lord Ellenborough was still 
less easy than ourselves. He knew that we were 
acquainted with his visits to Carlton -house and 
Brighton (sympathies not eminently decent in a 
judge,) and with the good things which he had 
obtained for his kinsmen; and we could not help 
preferring our feelings at the moment to those which 
induced him to keep his eyes fixed on his papers, 
which he did almost the whole time of our being in 
court, never turning them once to the place on 
which we stood. There were divers other points, 
too, on which he had some reason to fear that we 
might choose to return the lecture of the bench. He 
did not ev6n look at us, when he asked, in the 
course of his duty, whether it was our wish to make 
any remarks. I answered, that we did not wish to 
make any there ; and Mr. Justice Grose proceeded to 
pass sentence. At the sound of two years' imprison- 
ment in separate jails, my brother and myself in- 



FEELINGS DURING THE SENTENCE. 135 

stinctively pressed each other's arm. It was a heavy 
blow ; but the pressure that acknowledged it, en- 
couraged the resolution to bear it; and I do not 
believe that either of us interchanged a word after- 
wards on the subject 



136 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

IMPRISONMENT. 

Authof^s imprisanmeni. — Curious specimen of a jailer, an under- 
jailer, and an under-jailer^s wife, — Mr, Holme Sumner. — Con- 
version of a room in a prison into a fairy bower. — Author's 
visitors. — A heart-rending spectacle. — Felons and debtors, — 
Restoration to Freedom. 

We parted in hackney-coaches to our respective 
abodes^ accompanied by two tipstaves apiece. 

They prepared me for a smgular chanicter in my 
jailer. His name was Ives. I was told he was a 
very self-willed personage, not the more accommo- 
dating for being in a bad state of health ; and that 
he called everybody Mister. '* In short," said one of 
the tipstaves, "he is one as may be led, but he'll 
never be druvl^ 

The sight of the prison-gate and the high wall was 
a dreary business. I thought of my horseback and 
the downs of Brighton ; but congratulated myself, at 
all events, that I had come thither with a good con- 
science. After waiting in the prison-yard as long as 



THE author's jailer. 137 

if it had been the anteroom of a minister^ I was 
ushered into the presence of the great man. He 
was in his parlour, which was decently furnished, 
and had a basin of broth before him, which he 
quitted on my appearance, and rose with much 
solemnity to meet me. He seemed about fifty years 
of age. He had a white night-cap on, as if he was 
going to be hirng, and a great red face, which looked 
ready to burst with blood. Indeed, he was not 
allowed by his physician to speak in a tone above 
a whisper. 

The first thing which this dignified person said 
was, ** Mister, I 'd ha' given a matter of a hundred 
pounds, that you had not come to this place — a hun- 
dred pounds ! " The emphasis which he had laid on 
the word " hundred" was ominous. 

I forgot what I answered. I endeavoured, to 
make the best of the matter; but he recurred 
over and over again to the hundred pounds; and 
said he wondered, for his part, what the Govern- 
ment meant by sending me there, for the prison was 
, not a prison fit for a gentleman. He often repeated 
this opinion afterwards, adding, with a peculiar nod 
of his head, and " Mister, they knows it." 

I said, that if a gentleman deserved to be sent 
to prison, he ought not to be treated with a greater 
nicety than any one else : upon which he corrected 
me, observing very properly (though, as the phrase 



138 LIFE OP LEIGH HUKT. 

is, it was one word for the gentleman and two for 
the letter of prison-lodgings), that a person who had 
been used to a better mode of living than '^low 
people," was not treated with the same justice, if 
forced to lodge exactly as thej did* 

I told him his observation was very true ; which 
gave him a favourable opinion of my understanding : 
for I had many occasions of remarking, that he 
looked upon nobody as his superior, speaking even 
of the members of the royal family as persons whom 
he knew very well, and whom he estimated no more 
than became him. One royal duke had lunched in 
his parlour, and another he had laid under some 
polite obligation. " They knows me," said he, 
** very well. Mister ; and. Mister, I knows them." 
This concluding sentence he uttered with great par- 
ticularity and precision. 

He was not proof, however, against a Greek 
Phidar, which he happened to light upon one day 
among my books. Its unintelligible character gave 
him a notion that he had got somebody to deal with 
who might really know something which he did not. 
Perhaps the gilt leaves and red morocco binding had 
their share in the magic The upshot was, that he 
always showed himself anxious to appear well with 
me, as a clever fellow, treating me with great 
civility on all occasions but one, when I made him 
very angry by disappointing him in a money amount. 



THE AUTHOB'S jailer. 139 

The Pindar was a mystery that staggered him. I 
remember very well, that giving me a long account 
one day of something connected with his business, 
he happened to catch with his eye the shelf that con- 
tained it, and whether he saw it or not, abruptly 
finished by observing, " But, Mister, you knows all 
these things as well as I do." 

Upon the whole, my new acquaintance was as 
strange a person as I ever met with. A total want 
of education, together with a certain vulgar acute- 
ness, conspired to render him insolent and pedantic 
Disease sharpened his tendency to fits of passion, 
which threatened to suffocate him ; and then in his 
intervals of better health he would issue forth, with 
his cock-up-nose and his hat on one side, as great 
a fop as a jockey. I remember his coming to my 
rooms, about the middle of my imprisonment, as if 
on purpose to insult over my ill health with the 
contrast of his convalescence, putting his arms in a 
gay manner a-kimbo, and telling me I should never 
live to go out, whereas he was riding about as stout 
as ever, and had just been in the country. He died 
before I left prison. 

The word jail, in deference to the way in which it 
is sometimes spelt, this accomplished individual pro- 
nounced ffole; and Mr. Brougham he always spoke 
of as Mr. Bruffanu He one day apologized for this 
mode of pronunciation, or rather gave a specimen of 



140 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

vanity and self-will, which will show the reader 
the high notions a jailer may entertain of himself. 
" I find," said he, " that they calls him Broom ; but. 
Mister " (assuming a look from which there was to 
be no appeal), " I calls him Bruffam /" 

Finding that my host did not think the prison fit 
for me, I asked if he could let me have an apartment 
in his house. He pronounced it impossible ; which 
was a trick to enhance the price. I could not make 
an ofier to please him ; and he stood out so long, 
and, as he thought, so cunningly, that he subse- 
quently overreached himself by his trickery ; as the 
reader will see. His object was to keep me among 
the prisoners, till he could at once sicken me of the 
place, and get the permission of the magistrates to 
receive me into his house; which was a thing he 
reckoned upon as a certainty. He thus hoped to 
secure himself in all quarters ; for his vanity was 
almost as strong as his avarice. He was equally 
fond of getting money in private, and of the appro- 
bation of the great men whom he had to deal with in 
public ; and it so happened, that there had been no 
prisoner, above the poorest condition, before my 
arrival, with the exception of Colonel Despard. 
From abusing the prison, he then suddenly fell to 
speaking well of it, or rather of the room occupied 
by the colonel ; and said, that another corresponding 
with it would make me a capital apartment. ^^ To 



DELICACT OP AN UNDER-JAILER. 141 

be sure," said he, '* there is nothing but bare walls, 
and I have no bed to put in it." I replied, that of 
course I should not be hindered from having my 
own bed from home. He said, "No; and if it 
rains," observed he, *' you have only to put up with 
want of light for a time." ** What!" exclaimed I, 
"are there no windows?" "Windows, Mister I" 
cried he ; " no windows in a prison of this sort ; no 
glass. Mister : but excellent shutters." 

It was finally agreed, that I should sleep for a 
night or two in a garret of the jailer's house, till my 
bed could be got ready in the prison and the win- 
dows glazed. A dreary evening followed, which, 
however, let me completely into the man's character, 
and showed him in a variety of lights, some ludicrous, 
and others as melancholy. There was a full- length 
portrait in the room, of a little girl, dizzened out in 
her best. This, he told me, was his daughter, whom 
he had disinherited for her disobedience. I tried to 
suggest a few reflections, capable of doing her ser- 
vice ; but disobedience, I found, was an offence doubly 
irritating to his nature, on account of his sovereign 
habits as a jailer ; and seeing his irritability likely to 
inflame the plethora of his countenance, I desisted. 
Though not allowed to speak above a whisper, he 
was extremely willing to talk ; but at an early hour 
I pleaded my own state of health, and retired to bed. 

On taking possession of my garret, I was treated 



142 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

with a piece of delicacy^ which I never should have 
thought of finding in a prison. When I first entered 
its wallSj I had been received by the under-jailer, a 
man who seemed an epitome of all that was forbid- 
ding in his office. He was short and very thick, had 
a hook nose^ a great severe countenance, and a bunch 
of keys hanging on his arm. A friend stopped short 
at sight of him, and said in a melancholy tone, ' And 
this is the jailer I* 

Honest old* Cave ! thine outside would have been 
unworthy of thee, if upon further acquaintance I had 
not found it a very hearty outside, — ay, and in my 
eyes, a very good-looking one, and as fit to contain 
the milk of human-kindness that was in thee, as the 
husk of a cocoa. To show by one specimen the cha- 
racter of this man, — I could never prevail on him to 
accept any acknowledgment of lus kindness, greater 
than a set of tea-things, and a piece or two of old 
furniture which I could not well carry away. I had, 
indeed, the pleasure of leaving him in possession of a 
room which I had papered ; but this was a thing^un- 
expected, and which neither of us had supposed could 
be done. Had I been a prince, I would have forced 
on him a pension ; being a journalist, I made him 
accept an Examiner weekly, which he lived for some 
years to relish his Sunday pipe with. 

This man, in the interval between my arrival and 
introduction to the head-jailer^ had found means to 



DELICACY OF AN UNDER-JAILEB'S WIFE. 143 

give me farther information respecting mj condition^ 
and to express the interest he took in it. I thought 
little of his offers at the time. He behaved with the 
greatest air of deference to his principal ; moving as 
fast as his body would allow him, to execute his least 
intimation ; and holding the candle to him while he 
read, with an obsequious zeaL But he had spoken 
to his wife about me, and his wife I found to be as 
great a curiosity as himself. Both were more like 
the romantic jailers drawn in some of our modem 
plays, than real Horsemonger-lane palpabilities The 
wife, in her person, was as light and fragile as the 
husband was sturdy. She had the nerves of a fine 
lady, and yet went through the most unpleasant 
duties with the patience of a martyr. Her voice 
and look seemed to plead for a softness like their 
own, as if a loud reply would have shattered her. 
HI health had made her a Methodist, but this did 
not hinder her from sympathizing with an invalid 
who was none, or from loving a husband who was 
as little of a saint as need be. Upon the whole, 
such an extraordinary couple, so apparently unsuit- 
able, and yet so fitted for one another ; so apparently 
vulgar on one side, and yet so naturally delicate on 
both ; so misplaced in their situation, and yet for the 
good of others so admirably put there, I have never 
met with before or since. 

It was the business of this woman to lock me up 



144 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

in my garret ; but she did it so softly the first night, 
that I knew nothing of the matter. The night fol- 
lowing, I thought I heard a gentle tampering with 
the lock. I tried it, and found it fastened. She 
heard me as she was going down-stairs, and said the 
next day, " Ah, sir, I thought I should have turned 
the key so as for you not to hear it ; but I found you 
did." The whole conduct of this couple towards us, 
from first to last, was of a piece with this singular 
delicacy. 

My bed was shortly put up, and I slept in my new 
room. It was on an upper story, and stood in a 
comer of the quadrangle, on the right hand as you 
enter the prison-gate. The windows (which had 
now been accommodated with glass, in addition to 
their " excellent shutters") were high up, and barred ; 
but the room was large and airy, and there was a 
fireplace. It was intended to be a common room for 
the prisoners on that story ; but the cells were then 
empty. The cells were ranged on either side of the 
arcade, of which the story is formed, and the room 
opened at the end of it. At night-time the door 
was locked ; then another on the top of the staircase, 
then another on the middle of the staircase, then a 
fourth at the bottom, a fifth that shut up the little 
yard belonging to that quarter, and how many more, 
before you got out of the gates, I forget : but I do 
not exaggerate when I say there were ten or eleven. 



PIBST EFFECTS OF IMPEISOITMENT. 145 

The first night I slept there^ I listened to them, one 
after the other^ till the weaker part of my heart died 
within me. Every fresh turning of the key seemed 
a malignant insult to my love of liberty. I was 
alone^ and away &om my family ; I, who to this day 
have never slept from home above a dozen weeks in 
my life. Furthermore, the reader wiU bear in mind 
that I was ilL With a great flow of natural spirits^ 
I was subject to fits of nervousness^ which had lat- 
terly taken a more continued shape. I felt one of 
them coming dn, and having learned to anticipate 
and break the force of it by exercise, I took a stout 
walk by pacing backwards and forwards for the 
space of three hours. This threw me into a state 
in which rest, for rest's sake, became pleasant. I 
got hastily into bed, and slept without a dream till 
morning. 

By the way, T never dreamt of prison but twice 
all the time I was there, and my dream was the same 
on both occasions. I fancied I was at the theatre, 
and that the whole house looked at me in surprise, as 
much as to say, ** How could he get out of prison ?" 

I saw my wife for a few minutes after I entered 
the jail, but she was not allowed on that day to 
stop longer. The next day she was with me for 
some hours. To say that she never reproached me 
for these and the like taxes upon our family pros- 
pects, is to say IHtle. A world of comfort for me 

VOL. II. * L 



146 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

was In her face. There is a note in the fifth volume 
of my Spenser, which I was then reading, in these 
words .-—"February 4th, 1813.'' The line to which 
it refers is this : — 

" Much dearer be the things which come through hard 
distresse." 

I now applied to the magistrates for permission to 
have my wife and children constantly with me, which 
was granted* Not so my request to move into the 
jailer's house. Mr. Hohne Sumner, on occasion of a 
petition from a subsequent prisoner, told the House 
of Conunons that my room had a view over the 
Surrey hills, and that I was very well content with 
it. I could not feel obliged to him for this postlimi- 
nious piece of enjoyment, especially when I remem- 
bered that he had done all in his power to prevent 
my removal out of the room, precisely (as it appeared 
to us), because it looked upon nothing but the felons, 
and because I was not contented. In fact, you could 
not see out of the windows at all, without getting on 
a chair ; and then, all that you saw, was the miserable 
men whose chains had been clanking from daylight. 
The perpetual sound of these chains wore upon my 
spirits in a manner to which my state of health 
allowed me reasonably to object. The yard, also, in 
which I took exercise, was very smalL The jailer 
proposed that I should be allowed to occupy apart- 



MR. HOLME SUMNER. 147 

ments in his house, and walk occasionally in the 
prison garden ; adding, that I should certainly die if 
I did not ; and his opinion was seconded by that of 
the medical man. Mine host was sincere in this, if 
in nothing else. Telling us, one day, how warmly 
he had put it to the magistrates, and how he insisted 
that I should not survive, he turned round upon me, 
and, to the doctor's astonishment, added, "Nor, Mister, 
will you." I believe it was the opinion of many ; but 
Mr. Holme Sumner argued otherwise; perhaps 
from his own sensations, which were sufficiently iron. 
Perhaps he concluded, also, like a proper old Tory, 
that if I did not think fit to flatter the magistrates a 
little, and play the courtier, my wants could not be 
very great. At all events, he came up one day with 
the rest of them, and after bowing to my wife, and 
piteously pinching the cheek of an infant in her arms, 
went down and did all he could to prevent our being 
comfortably situated. 

The doctor then proposed that I should be removed 
into the prison infirmary; and this proposal waa 
granted* Infirmary had, I confess, an awkward 
sound, even to my ears. I fancied a room shared 
with other sick persons, not the best fitted for com- 
panions ; but the good-natured doctor (his name was 
Dixon) undeceived me. The infirmary was divided 
into four wards, with as many small rooms attached 
to them. The two upper wards were occupied, but 

L 2 



148 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

the two on the floor had never been used : and one 
of these, not very providently (for I had not yet 
learned to think of money) I turned into a noble 
room. I papered the walls with a trellis of roses ; I 
had the ceiling coloured with clouds and sky ; the 
barred windows I screened with Venetian blinds; 
and when my bookcases were set up with their busts, 
and flowers and a pianoforte made their appearance, 
perhaps there was not a handsomer room on that side 
the water. I took a pleasure, when a stranger 
knocked at the door, to see him come in and stare 
about him. The surprise on issuing from the 
Borough, and passing through the avenues of a jail, 
was dramatic. Charles Lamb declared there was no 
other such room, except in a fairy tale* 

But I possessed another surprise; which was a 
garden. There was a little yard outside the room, 
railed off from another belonging to the neighbouring 
ward. This yard I shut in with green palings, 
adorned it with a trellis, bordered it with a thick bed 
of earth from a nursery, and even contrived to have 
a grass-plot. The earth I filled with flowers and 
young trees. There was an apple-tree, from which 
we managed to get a pudding the second year. As 
to my flowers, they were allowed to be perfect. 
Thomas Moore, who came to see me with Lord 
Byron, told me he had seen no such heart's-ease. I 
bought the Pamaso Italiano while in prison, and 



IMPRISONMENT EMBELLISHED. 149 

used often to think of a passage in it^ while looking 
at this miniature piece of horticulture : — 

" Mio picciol orto, 
A me sei vigna, e campo, e selva, e prato." 

Baldi. 

" My little garden, 
To me thou 'rt vineyard, field, and meadow, and wood." 

Here I wrote and read in fine weather, sometimes 
under an awning. In autumn, my trellises were hung 
with scarlet runners, which added to the flowery 
investment. I used to shut my eyes in my arm- 
chair, and afiect to think myself hundreds of miles 
off. 

But my triumph was in issuing forth of a morning. 
A wicket out of the garden led into the large one 
belonging to the prison. The latter was only for 
vegetables ; but it contained a cherry-tree, which I 
saw twice in blossom. I parcelled out the ground in 
my imagination into favourite districts. I made a 
point of dressing myself as if for a long walk ; and 
then, putting on my gloves, and taking my book 
under my arm, stepped forth, requesting my wife not 
to wait dinner if I was too late. My eldest little 
boy, to whom Lamb addressed some charming verses 
on the occasion, was my constant companion, and we 
used to play all sorts of juvenile games together. It 
was, probably, in dreaming of one of these games 
(but the words had a more touching effect on my 



150 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

ear) that he exclaimed one night in his sleep, " No : 
I 'm not lost ; I 'm found." Neither he nor I were 
very strong at that time ; but I have lived to see him 
a man of forty ; and wherever he is found, a generous 
hand and a great understanding will be found 
together. 

I entered prison the 3rd of February 1813, and 
removed to my new apartments the 16th of March, 
happy to get out of the noise of the chains. When I 
sat amidst my books, and saw the imaginary sky 
overhead, and my paper roses about me, I drank in 
the quiet at my ears, as if they were thirsty. The 
little room was my bed-room. I afterwards made 
the two rooms change characters, when my wife lay 
in. Permission for her continuance with me at that 
period was easily obtained of the magistrates, among 
whom a new-comer made his appearance. This was 
another good-natured man, Lord Leslie, afterwards 
Earl of Rothes.* He heard me with kindness ; and 
his actions did not belie his countenance. My eldest 
girl (now, alas ! no more) was born in prison. She 
was beautiful, and for the greatest part of an exist- 
ence of thirty years, she was happy. She was 
christened Mary after my mother, and Florimel 
after one of Spenser's heroines. But Mary we 



♦ George William, twelfth earl of that name. He died a 
flew years afterwards. 



FIRST AND SECOND TEAB OF IMPRISONMENT. 161 

called her. Never shall I forget my sensations 
when she came into the world; for I was obliged 
to play the physician myself, the hour having taken 
us by surprise. But her mother found many un- 
expected comforts ; and during the whole time of 
her confinement, which happened to be in very fine 
weather, the garden door was set open, and she 
looked upon trees and flowers. A thousand recol- 
lections rise within me at every fresh period of 
mj imprisonment, such as I cannot trust myself 
with dwelling upon. 

These rooms, and the visits of my friends, were 
the bright side of my captivity. I read verses without 
end, and wrote almost as many. I had also the 
pleasure of hearing that my brother had found com- 
fortable rooms in Coldbath-fields, and a host who 
really deserved that name as much as a jailer could. 
The first year of my imprisonment was a long pull 
up-hill ; but never was metaphor so literally verified, 
as by the sensation at the turning of the second. In 
the first year, all the prospect was that of the one 
coming : in the second, the days began to be scored 
oflP, like those of children at school preparing for a 
holiday. When I was fairly settled in my new 
apartments, the jailer could hardly give sufficient 
vent to his spleen at my having escaped his clutches, 
his astonishment was so great. Besides, though I 
treated him handsomely, he had a little lurking fear 



152 LIF£ OF LEIGH HtTNT. 

of the Examiner upon him ; so he contented himself 
with getting as much out of me as he could^ and 
boasting of the grand room which he would fain have 
prevented my enjoying. 

My jGriends were allowed to be with me till ten 
o'clock at night, when the under-tumkey, a young 
mtm with his lantern, and much ambitious gentility 
of deportment, came to see them out I believe we 
scattered an urbanity about the prison, till then 
unknown. Even William Hazlitt, who there first 
did me the honour of a visit, would stand inter- 
changing amenities at the threshold^ which I had 
great difficulty in making him pass, I know not 
which kept his hat off with the greater pertinacity 
of deference, I to the diffident cutter-up of Tory 
dukes and kings, or he to the amazing prisoner and 
invalid who issued out of a bower of roses. There 
came my old friends and school-fellows. Pitman, 
whose wit and animal spirits still keep him alive; 
Mitchell, who translated Aristophanes; and Barnes, 
who always reminded me of Fielding. It was he 
that introduced me to the late Mr. Thomas Alsager, 
the kindest of neighbours, a man of business, who 
contrived to be a scholar and a musician* He loved 
his leisure, and yet would start up at a moment's 
notice to do the least of a prisoner's biddings. 

My now old friend, Cowden Clarke, with his ever 
young and wise heart, was good enough to be his 



QO0T> IN EVIL, 153 

own introducer, paying his way, like a proper investor 
of prisons, with baskets of fruit. 

The Lambs came to comfort me in all weathers, 
hail or simshine, in daylight and in darkness, even 
in the dreadful frost and snow of the beginning of 
1814. 

My physician, curiously enough, was Dr. Knighton 
(afterwards Sir William), who had lately become 
physician to the prince. He, therefore, could not, 
in decency, visit me under the circumstances, though 
he did again afterwards, never failing in the deli- 
cacies due either to his great friend or to his small. 
Meantime, another of his friends, the late estimable 
Dr. Gooch, came to me as his substitute, and he 
came often. 

Great disappointment and exceeding viciousness 
may talk as they please of the badness of human 
nature. For my part, I am now in my sixty-fifth 
year, and I have seen a good deal of the world, the 
dark side as well as the light, and I say that human 
nature is a very good and kindly thing, and capable 
of all sorts of virtues. Art thou not a refutation 
of all that can be said against it, excellent Sir John 
Swinburne? another Mend whom I made in prison, 
and who subsequently cheered some of my greatest 
passes of adversity. 

To evils I have owed some of my greatest bless- 
ings. It was imprisonment that brought me ac- 



154 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT 

qualnted with my friend of friends^ Shelley. I had 
seen little of him before ; but he wrote to me, maMng 
me a princely offer, which at that time I stood in 
no need of. 

Some other persons, not at all known to ns, 
offered to raise money enough to pay the fine of 
1,000/. We declined it, with proper thanks ; and It 
became us to do so. But, as far as my own feelings 
were concerned, I have no merit ; for I was destitute, 
at that time, of even a proper Instinct with regard to 
money. It was not long afterwards that I was 
forced to call upon friendship for its assistance ; and 
nobly (as I shall show by-and-by) was it afiS^rded 
me I 

To some other friends, near and dear, I may not 
even return thanks in this place for a thousand 
nameless attentions, which they make it a business 
of their existence to bestow on those they love. I 
might as soon thank my own heart. But one or two 
others, whom I have not seen for years, and who by 
some possibility (if, indeed, they ever think it worth 
their while to fancy anything on the subject) might 
suppose themselves forgotten, I may be suffered to 
remind of the pleasure they gave me. M. S., who 
afterwards saw us so often near London, has long, I 
hope, been enjoying the tranquillity he so richly 
deserved ; and so, I trust, is C. S., whose face, or 
rather something like It (for it was not easy to 



JEBEMT BENTHAM. 155 

match her own), I continually met with afterwards 
in the land of her ancestors. Her veil, and her 
baskets of flowers, used to come through the portal, 
like light. 

I must not omit the honour of a visit &om the 
venerable Bentham, who was justly said to unite the 
wisdom of a sage with the simplicity of a child. He 
found me playing at battledore, in which he took a 
part, and, with his usual eye towards improvement, 
suggested an amendment in the constitution of 
shuttlecocks. I remember the surprise of the go- 
vernor at his local knowledge and his vivacity. 
"Why, Mister," said he, "his eye is everywhere at 
once." 

All these comforts were embittered by imceasing 
ill-health, and by certain melancholy reveries, which 
the nature of the place did not help to diminish. 
During the first six weeks, the sound of the felons' 
chains, mixed with what I took for horrid execra- 
tions or despairing laughter, was never out of my 
ears. When I went into the infirmary, which stood 
between the jail and the prison walls, gallowses 
were occasionally put in order by the side of my 
windows, and afterwards set up over the prison 
gates, where they remained visible. The keeper 
one day, with an air of mystery, took me into the 
upper ward, for the purpose, he said, of gratifying 
me with a view of the country from the roof. Some- 



156 LIFE OF LEIGH HUKT. 

thing prevented his showing me this; but the spec- 
tacle he did show me I shall never forget. It was a 
stout country girl^ sitting in an absorbed manner^ 
her eyes fixed on the fire. She was handsome, and 
had a little hectic spot in either cheek, the efiect of 
some gnawing emotion. He told me> in a whisper, 
that she was there for the murder of her bastard 
child. I could have knocked the fellow down for 
his unfeelingness in making a show of her; but, 
after all, she did not see us. She heeded us not. 
There was no object before her, but what produced 
the spot in her cheek. The gallows, on which she 
was executed, must have been brought out within 
her hearing ; — ^but perhaps she heard that as little. 

To relieve the reader's feelings, I will here ^ve 
him another instance of the delicacy of my friend 
the imder-jailer. He always used to carry up her 
food to this poor girl himself; because, as he said, 
he did not think it a fit task for younger men. 

This was a melancholy case. In general, the 
crimes were not of such a staggering description, 
nor did the criminals appear to take their situation 
to heart. I found by degrees, that fortune showed 
fairer play than I had supposed to all classes of men, 
and that those who seemed to have most reason to 
be miserable, were not always so. Their criminality 
was generally proportioned to their want of thought. 
My friend Cave, who had become a philosopher by 



FELONS AND DEBTORS* 157 

the force of his situation^ said to me one day, when 
a new batch of criminals came in, ''Poor ignorant 
wretches^ sir!" At evening, when they went to 
bed, I used to stand in the prison garden, listening 
to the cheerful songs with which the felons enter^ 
tained one another. The beaters of hemp were a 
still merrier race. Doubtless the good hours and 
simple fare of the prison contributed to make the 
blood of its inmates run better, particularly those 
who were forced to take exercise. At last, I used 
to pity the debtors more than the criminals; yet 
even the debtors had their gay parties and jolly 
songs. Many a time (for they were my neighbours) 
have I heard them roar out the old ballad in Beau- 
mont and Fletcher : — 



*' He that drinks, and goes to bed sober, 
Falls as the leaves do, and dies in October. 



M 



To say the truth, there was an obstreperousness in 
their mirth, that looked more melancholy than the 
thoughtlessness of the lighter-feeding felons. 

On the 3rd of February 1815, 1 was free. When 
my family, the preceding summer, had been obliged 
to go down to Brighton for their health, I felt ready 
to dash my head against the wall, at not being able 
to follow them. I would sometimes sit in my chair, 
with this thought upon me, till the agony of my im- 
patience burst out at every pore. I would not speak 



158 LIFE OF LEIGH HUlTr. 

of it, if it did not enable me to show how this kind 
of suflfering may be borne, and in what sort of way it 
terminates. I learnt to prevent it by violent exer- 
cise. All fits of nervousness ought to be anticipated 
as much as possible with exercise. Indeed, a proper 
healthy mode of life would save most people from 
these effeminate ills, and most likely cure even their 
inheritors. 

It was now thought that I should dart out of my 
cage like a bird, and feel no end in the delight of 
ranging. But partly from ill-health, and partly 
from habit, the day of my liberation brought a good 
deal of pain with it. An illness of a long standing, 
which required very different treatment, had by this 
time been burnt in upon me by the iron that enters 
into the soul of the captive, wrap it in flowers as he 
may ; and I am ashamed to say, that after stopping a 
little at the house of my fnend Alsager, I had not 
the courage to continue looking at the shoals of 
people passing to and fro, as the coach drove up the 
Strand. The whole business of life seemed a hideous 
impertinence. The first pleasant sensation I expe- 
rienced was when the coach turned into the New 
B.oad, and I beheld the old hills of my affection 
standing where they used to do, and breathing me a 
welcome. 

It was very slowly that I recovered anything like 
a sensation of health. The bitterest evil I suffered 



MOEBID EFFECTS OF IMPEISONMENT. 159 

was in consequence of having been confined so long 
in one spot. The habit stuck to me on my re- 
turn home5 hi a very extraordinary manner, and ^ 
made, I fear, some of my friends think me 
ungratefuL They did me an injustice; but it was 
their fault; nor could I wish them the bitter ex- 
perience which alone makes us acquainted with the 
existence of strange things. This weakness I out- 
lived; but I have never thoroughly recovered the 
shock given my constitution. My natural spirits, 
however, have always struggled hard to see me 
reasonably treated. Many things give me exquisite 
pleasure, which seem to affect other men in a very 
minor degree ; and I enjoyed, after all, such happy 
moments with my friends, even in prison, that in the 
midst of the beautiful climate which I afterwards 
visited, I was sometimes in doubt whether I would 
not raOier have been in jaU than in Italy. 



160 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 



CHAPTER XV. 

TBEE AGAIN, — SHELLEY IN ENGLAND. 

Dignified neighbour and landlord. — Visits from Lord Byron and 
Mr. Wordsworth, — Infernal conduct of the angels in Paradise 
Lost. — Return of hypochondria-^-Besceni of liberty, — Story of 
Rimini. — United States. — Ftsits to Lord Byron. — History of 
Shelley while in England. 

On leaying prison^ I went to live in the Edgware- 
road, because my brother's house was in the neigh- 
bourhood. When we met, we rushed into each 
other^s arms, and tears of manhood bedewed our 
cheeks. 

Not that the idea of the Prince Kegent had any- 
thing to do with such grave emotions. His Royal 
Highness continued to affect us with anything but 
solemnity, as we took care to make manifest in the 
Examiner. We had a hopeful and respectful word 
for every reigning prince, but himself; and I must 
say, that with the exception of the Emperor Alex- 
ander, not one of them deserved it. 

The lodging which my family occupied (for the 



LORD BYRON, 161 

fine, and the state of my health, delayed our re- 
Bumption of a house) was next door to a wealthy 
old gentleman, who kept a handsome carriage, and 
spoke very bad grammar. My landlord, who was 
also a dignified personage after his fashion, pointed 
him out to me one day, as he was getting into this 
carriage ; adding, in a tone amounting to the awful, 
" He is the greatest plumber in London." The 
same landlord, who had a splendid turn for anti- 
climax, and who had gifted his children with names 
proportionate to his paternal sense of what became 
him, called out to one of them from his parlour 
window, *^You, sir, there — Maximilian — come out 
of the gutter." He was a good-natured sort of 
domineering individual ; and would say to his wife, 
when he went out, "Damn it, my love, I insist 
on having the pudding." 

In this house. Lord Byron continued the visits 
which he made me in prison. Unfortunately, I 
was too ill to return them. He pressed me very 
much to go to the theatre with him ; but illness, and 
the dread of conunitting my critical independence, 
alike prevented me. His lordship was one of a 
management that governed Drury-lane Theatre at 
that time, and that were not successful He got 
nothing by it, but petty vexations and a good deal of 
scandal 

Lord Byron's appearance at that time was the 

VOL. IL M 



162 LIFE. OF^ £<BIOB HUNT. 

finest I ever saw it* He was fatter than before his 
marriage^ but only just enough so to complete the 
elegance of his person; and the turn of his head 
and countenance had: a spirit and elevaticm in it, 
which^ though not unmixed with disquiet^ gave him 
altogether a very noble look. His dress^ which was 
blacky with white trousers^ and which he wore but^ 
toned close over the bodj^ com^deted the succinct- 
ness and gentlemanliness of his appearance. I 
remember one day^, as he stood looking out of the 
window, he resembled in a Hvely manner the por- 
trait of him by Phillips, by far the best that bad 
appeared ; I mean the best of hijxk at hia best time of 
life, and the most like bim in features as well as 
expression* He sat oae nK)ming so long, that Lad; 
Byron sent up twice to let him know die was wait- 
ing. Her ladyship used to go on in the carriage to 
Henderson's nursery -groundi to get flowers. I 
had not the honour of knowing her, nor ever saw 
her but once> when I caught a glimpse of her at the 
door. I thought she had a pretty, earnest look, with 
her '^ pippin" face ; an epithet by which she play full j^ 
designated herself. 

I had. a little study overlooking the fields to West* 
bourne^ — a. sequestered, spot at that time emboweared 
in tree& The study was draperied with white and 
green, having furniture to match ; and as the noble 
poet had seen me during my imprisonment in a 



WORDSWORTH. 163 

bower of rosea; he might here be &sad, with no great 
stretch of imagination^ to hare found me in a box of 
lilies. I mention thist, because he took pleasure in 
the look of the little apartment. Also^ because my 
wife's £ah cousin^ Y. K. now^ alas ! no more^ who 
was as good as she waa intelligent^ and as resolute as 
gentle^ extinguished me there one morning when my 
dressing-^own had caught fire. She was all her 
life^ indeed; taking painful tasks on herself^ to save 
trouble to others. 

In a room at the end of the garden to this house 
wa« » magnificent rocking-horse, which a friend had 
given my little boy ; and Lord Byron, with a childish 
glee becoming a poet, would ride upon it. Ah ! 
why did he ever ride his Pegasus to less advantage ? 
Poets Aould never give up their privilege of sur- 
monnting sorrow with joy. 

It was here also I had the honour of a visit from 
Mr* Wordsworth. He came to thank me for the 
zeal I had shewn in advocating the cause of his 
genius. I had the pleasure of shewing him his book 
on my shelves by the side of Milton ; a sight which 
must have been the more agreeable, inasmuch as the 
vi^ was unexpected. He favoured me, in return, 
with giving his opinion of some of the poets his 
contemporaries, who would assuredly not have paid 
him a visit on the same grounds on which he was 
pleased to honour myselL Nor do I believe, that 

M 2 



164 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

from that day to this, he thought it becoming in him 
to reciprocate the least part of any benefit which 
a word in good season may have done for him. 
Lord Byron, in resentment for my having called him 
the "prince of the bards of his time," would not 
allow him to be even the " one-eyed monarch of the 
blind." He said he was the " blind monarch of the 
one-eyed." I must still difier with his lordship on 
that point; but I must own, that, after all which 
I have seen and read, posterity, in my opinion, wiU 
difier not a little with one person respecting the 
amount of merit to be ascribed to Mr. Wordsworth ; 
though who that one person is, I shall leave the 
reader to discover. 

Mr. Wordsworth, whom Mr. Hazlitt designated as 
one that would have had the wide circle of his humani- 
ties made still wider, and a good deal more pleasant, 
by dividing a little more of his time between his 
lakes in Westmoreland and the hotels of the metro- 
polis, had a dignified manner, with a deep and 
roughish but not unpleasing voice, and an exalted 
mode of speaking. He had a habit of keeping his 
left hand in the bosom of his waistcoat ; and in this 
attitude, except when he turned round to take one of 
the subjects of his criticism from the shelves (for his 
contemporaries were there also), he sat dealing forth 
his eloquent but hardly catholic judgments. In his 
** father's house," there were not " many mansions." 



WOEDSWORTH. 165 

He was as sceptical on the merits of all kinds of 
poetry but one^ as Kichardson was on those of the 
novels of Fielding. 

Under the study in which my visitor and I were 
sitting was an archway, leading to a nursery-ground ; 
a cart happened to go through it while I was in- 
qmring whether he would take any refreshment ; and 
he uttered, in so lofty a voice, the words, '^ Anything 
which is going forward^ that I felt inclined to ask 
him whether he would take a piece of the cart. 
Lamb would certainly have done it. But this was 
a levity which would neither have been so proper on 
my part, after so short an acquaintance, nor very 
intelligible perhaps, in any sense of the word, to the 
serious poet. There are good-humoured warrants 
for smiling, which lie deeper even than Mr. Words- 
worth's thoughts for tears. 

I did not see this distinguished person again till 
thirty years afterwards ; when, I should venture to 
say, his manner was greatly superior to what it was 
in the former instance; indeed, quite natural and 
noble, with a cheerftd air of animal as well as 
spiritual confidence ; a gallant bearing, curiously 
reminding one of a certain illustrious duke, as I have 
seen him walking some dozen years ago by a lady's 
side, with no imbecoming oblivion of his time of life. 
I observed, also, that he no longer conmiitted himself 
in scornful criticisms^ or^ indeed, in any criticisms 



166 LIFE OF LEIOa HUNT. 

whatever^ «t least ae far as I knew. He had foond out 
that he Gould^ at leasts afford to be silent. Indeed, 
he spoke very little of anything. The conversation 
turned upon Milton^ and I fanded I had opened a 
subjeot that would have "brought him out," by- 
remarking, that the most diabolical thing in all 
Paradise Lost was a feeling attributed to ihe angels. 
" Ay I " said Mr. Wordsworth, and inquired what it 
was. I said it was the passage in whidi the angels, 
when they observed Sataa joumeyioiig through die 
empyrean, let down a set of st^ out of heaven, on 
purpose to add to his misery,— to his despair of ew&r 
being able to re^^uscend them ; they being angeb in a 
staAe of bliss, and he a fallen spirit doomed to eternal 
punishment. The passage is as follows :- — 

" Each stair was meant mysteriously, nor stood 
There always, but, drawn up to heaTen, sometimes 
Viewless ; and undemeadi a bright sea flow'd 
Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, wh^reoa 
Who after came from earth sailing arriy'd 
Wafted by angels, or flew o'er the lake 
Sapt in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds. 
llie stairs were then let down, whether to dare 
The fiend by ^asy ascent, or aggrav€U$ 
His sad exclttsion from the doors of bliss, *^ 

Mr. Wordsworth p<Midered, and said nothing. I 
thought to myself, what pity for the poor devil would, 
not good undLe Toby have expressed! Into what 
indignation would not Bums have exploded ! What 



CONSEQ0£KCiES OF IMTRISOKlIENT. 167 

knowledge of diemBelyes wofdd not ha^e been forced 
upon those same coscombical and malignant angels 
by Fielding or Shakapeaa^e J 

Walter Soott said, that the ^yes of Bums were 
the finest he ever Hsaw. I cannot say the same of 
Mr. Wordsworth ; that is, not in the sense of the 
beautiful, or even of the profound. But certainly 
I never beheld eyes that looked so inspired or super- 
natural They were like fires half burning, half 
smouldering, with a sort of a(»id fixture of regard, 
and seated at the further end of two caverns. One 
might imagine Ezekielor Isaiah to have liad such eyes. 

It was for a good while after leaving prison that I 
wafi unable to return the visits of the friends who saw 
me there. Two years' confinement, and illness in ; 
combination, had acted so injuriously upon a sensitive 1 
temper£ua[ient, that for many months I could not leave j 
home without a mor1»d wish to return, and a fear of 
being seized with some fit or other in the streets, i 
perhaps with sudden death ; and this was one of the 
periods when my hypochondria came back. In com- 
pany, however, or at the sight of a friend^ animal 
spirits would struggle even with that ; and few people, 
whatever ill-health I shewed in my face, had the 
shghtest idea of what I suffered. Wh^i they thought 
I was simply jaundiced, I was puzzlii^ myself with 
the cosmogony. • When they fancied me wholly occu- 
pied in some conversation on a poem or a pot of 



168 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT* 

flowers, I would be haunted with the question re- 
specting the origin of evil. What agonies, to be 
sure — ^what horrible struggles between wonder and 
patience — I suffered then ! and into what a heaven of 
reliance and of gladness have I been since brought, 
by a little better knowledge of the tuning of the 
instruments of this existence, whether bodily or 
mental, taking right healthy spirits as the key-note, 
and harmonizing everything else with those! But 
I have treated this point already. Let me repeat 
my advice, however, to any one who may be suf- 
fering melancholy of the same sort, or of any sort, 
to take this recollection of mine to heart, and do his 
best to derive comfort from it. I thought I should 
die early, and in suffering; and here I am, thirty 
years afterwards, writing these words. 

" For thilkfe ground, that beareth the weed's wick, 
Beareth also these wholesome herbs as ofl ; 
And next to the foul nettle, rough and thick, 
The rose y waxeth sweet, and smooth, and soft ; 
And next the valley is the hill aloft ; 
And next the darky night is the glad morrow, 
And also joy is next the fine of sorrow.** 

Chauceb. 

In the spring of the year 1816 I went to reside 
again in Hampstead, for the benefit of the air, and 
of my old field walks ; and there I finished the Story 
of Rimini^ which was forthwith published. I have 
spoken of a masque on the downfall of Napoleon^ 



"STOEY OP EIMINI." 169 

called the Descent of Liberty , which I wrote while in 
prison. Liberty descends in it from heaven, to free the 
earth from the burthea of an evil magician. It was a 
compliment to the AUies, which they deserved well 
enough, inasmuch as it was a failure ; otherwise they 
did not deserve it at all ; for it was founded on a belief 
in promises which they never kept. There was a 
vein of something true in the Descent of Liberty , par- 
ticularly in passages where the domestic affections 
were touched upon ; but the poetry was too much on 
the surface. Fancy (encouraged by the allegorical 
nature of the masque) played her part too entirely 
in it at the expense of imagination. I had not yet 
got rid of the self-sufficiency caused by my editorial 
position, or by the credit, better deserved, which 
political courage had obtained for me. I had yet to 
learn in what the subtler spirit of poetry consisted. 

Nor had I discovered it when I wrote the Story of 
Rimini. It was written in what, perhaps, at my 
time of life, and after the degree of poetical reputa- 
tion which has been conceded me, I may be allowed, 
after the fashion of painters, to call my ^^ first man- 
ner;" not the worst manner conceivable, though far 
from the best; as far from it (or at whatever greater 
distance modesty may require it to be put) as Dry- 
den's Flower and the Leaf from the story in Chaucer 
which Dryden imitated. I must take leave, however, 
to regard it as a true picture, painted after a certain 



170 LITE OP XSI6H Buirr. 

mode ; and I can nevar foiget the oomfort I enjoyed 
in ptdntiBg it, thoiigh I think I ha^e Bi»ce executed 
some things with a xjaouee inward peroeption of poetioal 
requirement. 

This poem, the greater part of which was written 
in prison, had been commenced a year or two before^ 
while I was visitii^ the sea-coast at Hastings, with 
my wife and our first child. I was very happy ; and 
looking among my books for some melancholy theme 
of verse, by which I could Edteady my felidty, I 
imfortimately chose the 6ubject of Dante's famous 
episode. I did not consider, indeed at that time 
was not critically aware, that to enliurgo upon a sub- 
ject which had been treated with exquisite suffi- 
ciency, aaid to his immortal renown, by a greatciaeter, 
was not likely, by any m^eiit of detail, to save a tyro 
in the art from the charge of presumption, ^speoiaUy 
one who had not yet aven studied mastery itself, 
except in a subordinate shape. Dryden, at that 
time, in q)ite of my sense of Milton's superiority, 
and my early love o£ Spenser, was the most d^ght- 
ful name to me in English poetry. I had found in 
him more vigour, and music too, than in Pope, who had 
been my closest poetical acquaintance ; and I could not 
rest till I had played on his instrument. I brought, 
however^ to my task a sympathy with the tender and 
the pathetic, wfaidi I did not find in my master; and 
there was also an impulsive difference now and then in 



^^STOET OF :rimikl'* 171 

the ettyle, and a gFeater iendenej to Eomqplidity of 
words. Myv^arifioatumTnanotsoTigorousashk. 
33iere were many weak lines m it. It socceeded 
best in catdini£^ the yariety off liis cadences ; at least 
so far as they broke up the monotony of Pope. But 
I had a greater love for &e beanties of external 
nature ; I think also I partook of a more southern 
insight into the beauties of colour, of winch I made 
abundant use in the procession which is described in 
the first canto ; and if I invested my story with too 
many circumstances of description, especially on 
points not essential to its progress, annd thus took 
leave in toto of the brevity, as well as the force of 
Dante, still tine enjoyment which led me into the 
superflidty was manifest, and so far became its war- 
rant. I had the pleasure of supplying my friendly 
eiitie. Lord Byro©, with a point for his Parisina (the 
incident of the heroine talking in her sleep) ; of see- 
ing all the reigning poets, witiiout exception, break 
up their own heroic couplets into freer modulation 
(which they never afterwards abandoned); and of 
being paid for the resentment of the Tory critics in 
one single sentence from the lips of Mr. Sogers, 
who told me, when I met him for the first time at 
Lord Byron's house, that he had "just left a beau- 
tiful woman sitting ov« my poem in tears,* 

I was then between twenty ^id thirty : I am now 
between sixty and seventy ; and I have just been 



172 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

told by a friend, that he lately heard one of the 
most distinguished of living authoresses say she had 
shed *^ tears of vexation " on finding that I had re- 
cast the conclusion of the poem, and taken away so 
much of the first matter. 

Let it be allowed me to boast of tears of this 
kind^ and to say what babn they have given me for 
many a wound. 

That re-casting of the poem was not a wise thing. 
The improvement which it received from the invigo- 
ration of weak lines, was injudiciously purchased by 
the change in the heroine's character, and the dimi- 
nution of the pathos. I found I had not even 
attained the principal object of the alteration, — the 
real truth of the events on which the story was 
founded ; and nobody welcomed the pains I had 
taken to obviate those charges of too attractive a sym- 
pathy with error, which had surprised me when the 
poem first appeared, and which the " tears of vexa^ 
tion" in the eyes of a morality the most received 
would alone have sufficed to nullify. The danger of 
the time, indeed the danger of all times, is, not too 
great a sympathy with error, but ignorance of the 
first causes of error. 

I need hardly advert, at the present time of day, 
to the objections of this kind, or of any kind, which 
were made to the poem, when it first appeared, by 
the wrath of the Tory critics. In fact, it would 



"STOBT OF BIMINI." 173 

have met with no such hostility, or indeed any hos- 
tility at all, if politics had not judged it. Critics 
might have differed about it, of course, and reason- 
ably have found fault; but had it emanated from 
the circles, or been written by any person not ob- 
noxious to political objection, I believe there is 
nobody at this time of day, who will not allow, that 
the criticism in all quarters would have been very 
goodnatured, and willing to hail whatever merit it 
possessed. I may therefore be warranted in having 
spoken of it without any greater allusion to quarrels 
which have long been over, and to which I have 
confessed that I gave the first cause of provocation. 

In a new edition of the poem, which is meditated, 
I propose to retain the improvement in its ver- 
sification, while I restore the narrative to its first 
course. With its historical truth, or otherwise, I 
shall no longer trouble myself; and I shall request 
the readers, if they can, to dismiss Dante from their 
minds, and to consider the story as a fiction having as 
little in common with his ferocity as with his subli- 
naity; — a design altogether different in its preten- 
sions; — a picture, by an immature hand, of sunny 
luxuriance overclouded ; not of a cloud, no less brief 
than beautiful, crossing the gulfs of Tartarus. 
Those who, after having seen lightning, will tolerate 
no other effect of light, have a right to say so, and 
may have the highest critical reason on their side ; 



174 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

but those who will do otherwbe^ haye perhaps more ; 
for they can enjoy lightnings and a bask in the 
sunshine too. 

The Story cf Ilimim had not long appeared^ when 
I received a copy of it5 which looked like witchcraft. 
It was the identical poem,, in tjrpe and appearance, 
bomid in calf, and sent me without any explanation ; 
but it was a litde smaller. I turned it over a dozen 
times, wondering what it could be, and how it could 
have or^nated. The simple solution of the puzzle 
I did not consider, till I had summoned other per- 
sons to partake my astonishment At length we 
consulted the title-page, and there saw the names of 
*' Wells and Lilly, Boston^ and M. Carey, Phila- 
delphia." — I thought how the sight would have 
pleased my &ther and mother. A few years ago I 
received a copy of another Boston edition, preceded 
by the like piracy of another poeo]^ the publisher of 
which was so good as to say, that he had heard of a 
ne, 0^ *»M .y pen. wL. h. *^ U ver, 
happy to print also, if I would send it him. Not a 
syllable did he add about the hi^piness of disbursing 
a doit for the permission. How many poems of 
mine, or editions of poems, or editions of prose- 
writuigs, have appeared in America, before or since, 
I cannot say ; but I believe the boolsseUers there 
have republished everything which I have written ; 
and I confess I csomot but be sensible even of th^ 



TOK UlflTXD STATES.. 175 

shabby honous thtts- done me^ and heartily glad of 
every genial hand, into which mj prodsctions may 
be carried in; c<m8eque]!ice : but I should like to 
know> what an. Americim publisher would say,, if 
some English traveller weiie to help Himself to the 
fruits of his labour out of Uie till^ and make off with 
them on board ship* Being a cousiu'-germane of the 
Americans, I am very popular in their country, and 
receive from them every compUmeat imaginable, 
except a farthing's payment. How came my mother 
to be bom in such a eoimtry ? I love the women 
there for her sake, especially the Philadelphia wo- 
mean ; I respect, ako,. every American that differs 
with his bookseller ; and I hold in due favour their 
Bryants^ their Emersons, their Lovells, and their 
ambassad(»r&. But I wish I. could, get rid of the 
impression which I have before mentioned; to wit, 
that one great shop-counter extends all down their 
Qoast from Massachusetts to Mexico* Why do 
they not get a royal court or two among them, and 
thus learn that there is something else in the world 
besides huffing and money-getting? To be slave- 
holding in the south, payment-shirking in the north, 
and arrogant everywhere, is not to *^ gp a-head ^ of 
the nations, but to fall back into the times of colonial 
Dutchmen. Money -getting republics may be the 
millennium of the mercantile ; but they are neither 
the desires of human nature> nor of merchants them- 



176 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT, 

selves when they come to be lords in posse. The 
world, before it be satisfied with its governmental 
arrangements, must settle itself into something very- 
different, either from feudality's men of iron, or 
Sydney Smith's ** men of drab." 

I now returned the visits which Lord Byron had 
made me in prison. His wife's separation from him 
had just taken place, and he had become ill himself; 
his face was jaundiced with bile ; he felt the attacks 
of the public severely ; and, to crown all, he had an 
execution in his house. I was struck with the real 
trouble he manifested, compared with what the pub- 
lic thought of it. The adherence of his old friends 
was also touching. I saw Mr. Hobhouse (Sir John) 
and Mr. Scrope Davies (college friends of his) almost 
every time I called. Mr. Bogers was regular in his 
daily visits ; and Lord Holland, he told me, was very 
kind. 

Lord Byron, at this juncture, took the blame of 
the quarrel upon himself. He even enlisted the 
self-love of his new visitor so far on the lady's side, 
as to tell him '^that she liked my poem, and had 
compared his temper to that of Giovanni, the he- 
roine's consort."* He also showed me a letter which 

* " The worst of Prince Giovanni, as his bride 
Too quickly found, was an ill-temper*d pride. 
Bold, handsome, able (if he chose) to please,— 
Punctual and right in common offices, 



LADY BYRON. 177 

she had written him after her departure from the 
house, and when she was on her way to the rehitions 
who persuaded her not to return. It was signed 

He lost the sight of conduct's only worth, 

The scattering smiles on this uneasy earth ; 

And, on the strength of virtues of small weight, 

Claimed towards himself the exercise of great. 

He kept no reckoning with his sweets and sours ; 

He'd hold a sullen countenance for hours 

And then, if pleas*d to cheer liimself a space. 

Look for the immediate rapture in your face. 

And wonder that a cloud could still be there. 

How small soever, when his own was fair. 

Yet such is conscience, — so designed to keep 

Stem, central watch, though all things else may sleep. 

And so much knowledge of one*s self there lies 

Cored, after all, in self-complacencies. 

That no suspicion would have touch'd him more 

Than that of wanting on the generous score : 

He would have whelm'd you with a weight of scorn, — 

Been proud at eve, inflexible at morn, — 

In short, ill-temper*d for a week to come. 

And all to strike that desperate error dumb. 

Taste had he, in a word, for high-tum*d merit. 

But not the patience, nor the genial spirit : 

And so he made, 'twixt virtue and defect, 

A sort of fierce demand on your respect, 

Which, if assisted by his high degree, 

It gave him in some eyes a dignity. 

And struck a meaner deference in the many, 

Left him, at last, unloveable with any.** 

Giovanni, however, would not have had the candour to refer 
to any such description of himself as this ; neither had he any 
of the wit and pleasantry of my noble friend, 

VOL. II. N 



173 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

with the epithet before mentioned ; and was written 
in a spirit of good-humour, and even of fondness, 
which, though containing nothing but what a wife 
ought to write, and is the better for writing, was, I 
thought, almost too good to show. But a certain 
over-communicativeness was one of those qualities of 
his lordship, which equally became the child-like 
simplicity of a poet, and startled you in proportion 
as it led to disclosures of questionable propriety. 

I thought I understood the circumstances of this 
separation at the time, and still better some time 
afterwards ; but I have since been convinced, and the 
conviction grows stronger every day, that no domes- 
tic dispute, even if it were desirable or proper to 
investigate it, can ever be thoroughly understood 
unless you hear both parties, and know their entire 
relative situations, together with the interests and 
passions of those about them. You must also be 
sure of their statements; and see whether the 
statements on all sides themselves are prejudiced 
or the reverse. Indeed you cannot know indi- 
viduals themselves truly, unless you have lived 
with them ; at all events, unless you have studied 
them long enough to know whether appearances are 
realities; and although you may, and to a certain 
degree must, draw your own conclusions respecting 
people from statements which they give to the world, 
whether for or against themselves, yet it is safer^ ad 



SHELLEY. 179 

well as pleasanter^ to leave that question as much as 
possible in the place where it ought ever to have 
abided^ unless brought forward on the highest and 
noblest grounds ; namely, in the silence of the heart 
that has most suffered under its causes. 

I shall, therefore, say nothing more of a business 
which nobody ought to have heard of. Lord Byron 
soon afterwards left England, and I did not see him 
again, or hear from him, scarcely of him, till he pro- 
posed my joining him in Italy. I take my leave of 
him, therefore, till that period, and proceed to speak 
of the friends with whom I became intimate in the 
mean while — Shelley and Keats. 

I first saw Shelley during the early period of the 
JSxaminer, before its indictment on account of the 
Regent ; but it was only for a few short visits, which 
did not produce intimacy. He was then a youth, not 
come to his full growth ; very gentlemanly, earnestly 
gazing at every object that interested him, and 
quoting the Greek dramatists. Not long afterwards 
he married his first wife ; and he subsequently wrote 
to me while I was in prison, as I have before men- 
tioned. I renewed the correspondence a year or two 
afterwards, during which period one of the earliest 
as well as most beautiful of his lyric poems, the 
Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, had appeared in the 
Examiner, Meantime, he and his wife had parted ; 
and now he re-:appeared before me at Hampstead, in 

N 2 



180 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

consequence of the calamity which I am about to 
mention. 

But this circumstance it will be proper to intro- 
duce with some remarks, and a little previous bio- 
graphy. 

It is hardly necessary to inform the reader at this 
present day, that Percy Bysshe Shelley was the 
eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley, Bart., of Castle- 
Goring, in Sussex. He was bom at Field-Place, in 
that county, the 4th of August 1792. 

It is difficult, under any circumstances, to speak 
with proper delicacy of the living connections of the 
dead ; but it is no violation of decorum to observe, 
that the family connections of Mr. Shelley belonged 
to a small party in the House of Commons, itself 
belonging to another party. They were Whig Aris- 
tocrats, voting in the interest of the Duke of Norfolk. 
To a man of genius, endowed with a metaphysical 
acuteness to discern truth and falsehood, and a strong 
sensibility to give way to his sense of it, such an 
origin, however respectable in the ordinary point of 
view, was not the very luckiest that could have 
happened for the purpose of keeping him within 
ordinary bounds. With wtat feelings is Truth to 
open its eyes upon this world among the most 
respectable of our mere party gentry ? Among 
licensed contradictions of all sorts? among the Chris- 
tian doctrines and the worldly practices? Among 



SHELLEY. 181 

fox-hunters and their chaplains? among beneficed 
loungers, rakish old gentlemen, and more startling 
young ones, who are old in the folly of knomng-- 
nessf people not, indeed, bad in themselves; not 
so bad as their wholesale and unthinking decriers, 
much less their hypocritical decriers ; many excellent 
by nature, but spoilt by those professed demands of 
what is right and noble, and those inculcations, at 
the same time, of what is false and wrong, which 
have been so admirably exposed by a late philosopher 
(Bentham), and which he has fortunately helped 
some of our best living statesmen to leave out of the 
catalogue of their ambitions. 

Shelley began to think at a very early age, and 
to think, too, of these anomalies. He saw that 
at every step in life some compromise was expected 
between a truth which he was told not to violate, and 
a colouring and double-meaning of it which forced 
him upon the violation. 

Doubtless there are numbers of young men who dis- 
cern nothing of all this ; who are, comparatively, even 
unspoilt by it ; and who become respectable tellers of 
truth in its despite. These are the honourable part 
of the orthodox ; good-natured fathers and husbands, 
conscientious though not very inquiring clergymen, 
respectable men in various walks of life, who, think- 
ing they abide by the ideas that have been set before 
them, really have very few ideas of anything, and 



182 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

are only remarkable for affording Bpecimens of ererj 
sort of commonplace^ comfortable or unhappy. On 
the otiier hand^numbers of young men get a sense of 
this confusion of principles, if not with a direct and 
logical consciousness, yet with an instinct for turning 
it to account. Even some of these, by dint of a 
genial nature, and upon the same principle on which 
a heathen priest would eschew the vices of his 
mythology, turn out decent members of society. 
But how many others are spoilt for ever! How 
many victims to this concision of truth and false- 
hood, apparently flourishing, but really callous or 
unhappy, are to be found in all quarters of the com- 
munity ; men who profess opinions which contradict 
their whole lives ; takers of oaths, which they dis- 
pense with the very thought of; subscribers to 
articles which they doubt, or even despise : triflers 
with their hourly word for gain ; statesmen of mere 
worldliness ; ready hirelings of power ; sneering dis- 
believers in good ;• teachers to their own children of 
what has spoilt themselves, and has rendered their 
existence a dull and selfish mockery. 

Whenever a character like Shelley^s appears in 
society, it must be considered with reference to 
these abuses. Others may consent to be spoilt by 
them, and to see their fellow-creatures spoilt. He 
was a looker-on of a different nature. 

With this jumble^ then, of truth and falsehood in 



SHELLEY. 183 

liis head^ and a genius bom to detect it, though 
perhaps never quite able to rid itself of the injury 
(for if ever he deviated into an err6r unworthy of 
him, it was in occasionally condescending, though 
for the kindest purposes, to use a little double- 
dealing), Shelley was sent to Eton, and after- 
wards to the University of Oxford. At Eton, a 
Reviewer recollected him setting trees on fire with 
a burning-glass; a proceeding which the critic set 
down to his natural taste for destruction. Perhaps 
the same Reviewer (if we are not mistaken as to 
the person) would now, by the help of his own 
riper faculties, attribute it to the natural curiosity of 
genius. At the same school, the young reformer 
rose up in opposition to the system of fagging. 
Against this custom he formed a conspiracy ; and for 
a time he made it pause, at least as far as his own 
person was concerned. His feelings at this period of 
his life are touchingly and powerfully described in 
the dedication of the Revolt of Islam. 

" Thoughts of great deeds were mine, dear friend, when first 

The clouds which wrap this world from youth did pass. 
I do rememher well the hour which hnrst 

My spirit *8 sleep : a fresh May-day it was, 
When 1 walk'd forth upon the glittering grass, 

And wept, 1 knew not why, until there rose 
From the near schoolroom, voices, that, alas I 

Were but one echo from a world of woes — 
The harah and grating strife of tyrants and of foes. 



184 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

** And then I clasp*d mj hands, and look*d around, — 

But none was near to mock my streaming eyes, 
Which pour*d their warm drops on the sunnj ground : 

So without shame I spake : * I will be wise, 
And just, and free, and mild, if in me lies 

Such power ; for I grow weary to behold 
The selfish and the strong still tyrannize 

Without reproach or check.* I then controlled 
My tears ; my heart grew calm, and I was meek and bold. 

^* And from that hour did I, with earnest thought, 
Heap knowledge from forbidden mines of lore ; 

Yet nothing that my tyrants knew or taught 
I cared to learn ; but from that secret store 

Wrought linked armour for my soul, before 
It might walk forth to war among mankind.** 

Shelley, I believe, was taken from Eton before 
the regular period for leaving school. His uncon- 
ventional spirit — ^penetrating, sincere, and demanding 
the reason and justice of things — was found to be 
inconvenient. At Oxford it was worse. Logic was 
there put into his hands ; and he used it in the most 
uncompromising manner. The more important the 
proposition, the more he thought himself bound to 
investigate it : the greater the demand upon his 
assent, the less, upon their own principle of reason- 
ing, he thought himself bound to grant it : for the 
university, by its ordinances, invited scholars to ask 
questions which they found themselves unable to 
answer. Shelley did so ; and the answer was expul- 
sion. It is true, the question he asked was a very 



I 

f 



SHELLEY. 185 



hard one. It was upon the existence of God. But 
\ could neither Faith, Hope, nor Charity find a better 

answer than that ? and in the teeth, too, of their own 
challenge to inquiry? Could not some gentle and 
loving nature have been found to speak to him in 
private, and beg him at least to consider and pause 
over the question, for reasons which would have had 
their corresponding effect ? The Church of England 
has been a blessing to mankind, inasmuch as it has 
discountenanced the worst superstitions, and given 
sense and improvement leave to grow ; but if it can- 
not learn still further to sacrifice letter to spirit, and 
see the danger of closing its lips on the greatest 
occasions and then proceeding to open them on the 
smallest, and dispute with its very self on points the 
most "frivolous and vexatious," it will do itself an 
injury it little dreams of with the new and constantly 
growing intelligence of the masses ; who are looking 
forward to the noblest version of Christianity, while 
their teachers are thus fighting about the meanest. 

Conceive a young man of Mr. Shelley's character, 
with no better experience of the kindness and sin- 
cerity of those whom he had perplexed, thus thrown 
forth into society, to form his own judgments, and pur- 
sue his own career. It was Emilius out in the World, 
but formed by his own tutorship. There is a novel, 
under that title, written by the German La Fon- 
taine, which has often reminded me of him. The 



186 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

hero of another, by the same author, called the 
Reprobate^ still more resembles him. His way of 
proceeding was entirely after the fashion of those 
guileless, but vehement hearts, which not being 
well replied to by their teachers, and finding them 
hostile to inquiry, add to a natural love of truth all 
the passionate ardour of a generous and devoted 
protection of it. Shelley had met with Godwin's 
Political Justice ; and he seemed to breathe, for the 
first time, in an open and bright atmosphere. He 
resolved to square all his actions by what he con- 
ceived to be the strictest justice, without any con- 
sideration for the opinions of those whose little 
exercise of that virtue towards himself ill-fitted 
them, he thought, for better teachers, and as ill 
warranted him in deferring to the opinions of the 
world whom they guided. That he did some ex- 
traordinary things in consequence, is admitted : that 
he did many noble ones, and all with sincerity, is 
well known to his friends, and will be admitted by 
all sincere persons. Let those who are so fond of 
exposing their own natures, by attributing every 
departure from ordinary conduct to bad motives, 
ask themselves what conduct could be more ex- 
traordinary in their eyes, and at the same time 
less attributable to a bad motive, than the rejection 
of an estate for the love of a principle. Yet 
Shelley rejected one. He had only to become a 



SHELLEY. 187 

yea and naj man iu the House of Commons, to be 
one of the richest men in Sussex. He declined it, 
and lived upon a comparative pittance. Even the 
fortune that he would ultimately have inherited, as 
secured to his person, was petty in the comparison. 

I will relate another anecdote, which the imcha-^ 
ritable will not find it so difficult to quarrel with. 
It trenches upon that extraordinary privilege to in- 
dulge one sex at the expense of the other, which 
they guard with so jealous a care, and so many 
beggings of the question. The question, I grant, is 
weighty. Far am I from saying that it is here 
settled ; but very far are they themselves from hav- 
ing settled it; as their own writings and statistics, 
their own morals, romances, tears, and even comedies 
testify. The case, I understood, was this ; for I am 
bound to declare that I forget who told it me ; and I 
never asked Shelley whether it was true. But it is 
quite in character, and not likely to have been in- 
vented. Shelley was present at a ball, where he 
was a person of some importance. Numerous village 
ladies were there, old and young ; and none of the 
passions were absent that are accustomed to glance 
in the eyes, and gossip in the tongues, of similar 
gatherings together of talk and dress. In the front 
were seated the rank and fashion of the place. The 
virtues diminished, as the seats went backward ; and 
at the back of all^ unspoken to> but not unheeded^ 



188 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

sat blushing a damsel who had been seduced. It is 
not stated by whom ; probably by some well-dressed 
gentleman in the room, who thought himself entitled^ 
nevertheless, to the conversation of the most flourish- 
ing ladies present, and who naturally thought so, 
because he had it. That sort of thing happens every 
day. It was expected that the young squire would 
take out one of these ladies to dance. What is the 
consternation, when they see him making his way to 
the back benches, and handing forth, with an air of 
consolation and tenderness, the object of all the vir- 
tuous scorn of the room ! the person whom that other 
gentleman, wrong as he had been towards her, and 
"wicked" as the ladies might have allowed him to be 
towards the fair sex in general, would have shrunk 
from touching ! — The yoimg reformer, it was found, 
was equally unfit for school tyrannies, for univer- 
sity inconsistencies, and for the chaste orthodoxy of 
squires* tables. So he went up to town. 

Had he now behaved himself pardonably in the 
eyes of the conventional in those days (for it is 
wonderful in how short a time honest discussion may 
be advanced by a court at once correct and un- 
bigoted, and a succession of calmly progressing 
ministries ; and aU classes are now beginning to suffer 
the wisdom of every species of abuse to be doubted), 
Shelley woidd have gone to London with the resolu- 
tion of sowing his wild oats, and becoming a decent 



SHELLEY. 189 

« 

member of society ; that is to say, he would have 
seduced a few maid-servants, or at least haunted the 
lobbies, and then bestowed the remnant of his con- 
stitution upon some young lady of his own rank in 
life, and settled into a proper church-and-king man 
of the old leaven, perhaps a member of the Society for 
the Suppression of Vice. This used to be the proper 
routine, and gave one a right to be didactic. Alas I 
Shelley did not do so ; and bitterly had he to repent, 
not that he did not do it, but that he married while 
yet a stripling, and that the wife whom he took was 
not of a nature to appreciate his understanding, or, 
perhaps, to come from contact with it uninjured in 
what she had of her own. They separated by mutual 
consent, after the birth of two children. To this 
measure his enemies would hardly have demurred ; 
especially as the marriage was disapproved by the 
husband's family, and the lady was of inferior rank. 
It might have been regarded even as something like 
making amends. But to one thing they would 
strongly have objected. He proceeded, in the spirit 
of Milton's doctrines, to pay his court to another 
lady. I wish I could pursue the story in the same 
tone ; but now came the greatest pang of his life. 
He was residing at Bath, when news came to him 
that his wife had destroyed herself. It was a heavy 
blow to him ; and he never forgot it. For a time, it 
tore his being to pieces ; nor is there a doubt, that. 



\ 



190 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

• 

however deeply he was accustomed to reason on the 
nature and causes of evil^ and on the steps necessary 
to be taken for opposing it, he was not without 
remorse for having no better exercised his judgment 
with regard to the degree of intellect he had allied 
himself with, and for having given rise to a prema- 
ture independence of conduct in one unequal to the 
task. The lady was greatly to be pitied ; so was 
the survivor. Let the collegiate refusers of argu- 
ment, and the conventional sowers of their wild oats, 
with myriads of unhappy women behind them, rise 
up in judgment against him I Honester men will not 
be hindered from doing justice to sincerity wherever 
they find it ; nor be induced to blast the memory of 
a man of genius and benevolence, for one painAil 
passage in his life, which he might have avoided, had 
he been no better than his calumniators. 

On the death of this unfortunate lady, Shelley 
married the daughter of Mr. Godwin, and resided 
at Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire, where my 
family and myself paid him a visit, and where he was 
a blessing to the poor. His charity, though liberal, 
was not weak. He inquired personally into the cir- 
cumstances of his petitioners ; visited the sick in their 
beds (for he had gone the round of the hospitals on 
purpose to be able to practise on occasion), and kept 
a regular list of industrious poor, whom he assisted 
with small sums to make up their accounts. 



SHELLET, 191 

Here he wrote the Revolt of Islam, and A Proposal 
for putting Reform to the Vote through the Country, 
He offered to give a tenth part of his income for a 
year towards the advancement of the project. He 
used to sit in a study adorned with casts, as large as 
life, of the Vatican Apollo and the celestial Venus. 
Between whiles he would walk in the garden, or take 
stroUs about the country, or a sail in a boat, a diver- 
sion of which he was passionately fond. Flowers, or 
the sight of a happy face, or the hearing of a con- 
genial remark, would make his eyes sparkle with 
delight. At other times he would suddenly droop 
into an aspect of dejection, particularly when a 
wretched face passed him, or when he saw the 
miserable-looking children of a lace-making village 
near him, or when he thought of his own children, of 
whom he had been deprived by the Court of Chancery. 
He once said to me during a walk in the Strand, 
^^ Look at all these worn and miserable faces that pass 
us, and tell me what is to be thought of the world 
they appear in ?" I said, ** Ah, but these faces are 
not all worn with grief. You must take the wear 
and tear of pleasure into the account ; of secret joys as 
weU as sorrows ; of merry-makings, and sittings-up at 
night." He owned that there was truth in the re- 
mark. This was the sort of consolation which I was 
in the habit of giving him, and for which he was 
thankful, because I was sincere. 



192 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

Ab to his children, the reader perhaps is not aware, 
that in this country of England, so justly called free 
on many accounts, and so proud of its '^English- 
man's castle," — of the house, which nothing can 
violate, — a man's offspring can be taken from him. 
to-morrow, who holds a different opinion from the 

Lord Chancellor in faith and morals. Hume's, if he 

• 

had any, might have been taken. Gibbon's might 
have been taken. The virtuous Condorcet, if he 
had been an Englishman and a father, would have 
stood no chance. Plato, for his Republic^ would 
have stood as little ; and Mademoiselle de Goumay 
might have been torn from the arms of her adopted 
father Montaigne, convicted beyond redemption of 
seeing farther than the walls of the Court of 
Chancery. That such things are not done often, 
I believe: that they may be done oftener than 
people suspect, I believe also ; for they are transacted 
with closed doors, and the details are forbidden to 
transpire. 
/ Queen Mah^ Shelley's earliest poetical production, 
written before he was out of his teens, and regretted 
by him as a crude production, was published without 
his consent. Yet he was convicted from it of holding 
the opinion which his teachers at the University had 
not thought fit to reason him out of. He was also 
charged with not being of the received opinions with 
regard to the intercourse of the sexes; and his children. 



SHELLEY. 193 

a girl and boy, were taken from him. They were 
transferred to the care of a clergyman of the Church 
of England. The circumstance deeply affected 
Shelley : so much so, that he never afterwards dared 
to trust himself with mentioning their names in my 
hearing, though I had stood at his side throughout 
the business; probably for that reason.* Shel- 
ley's manner of life suffered greatly in its repute 
from this circumstance. He was said to be keeping 
a seraglio at Marlow ; and his friends partook of the 
scandaL This keeper of a seraglio, who, in fact, was 
extremely difficult to please in such matters, and who 
had no idea of love unconnected with sentiment, 
passed his days like a hermit. He rose early in the 
morning, walked and read before breakfast, took that 
meal sparingly, wrote and studied the greater part of 
the morning, walked and read again, dined on vege- 
tables (for he took neither meat nor wine), conversed 

* The boy is since dead; and Shelley*s son by his second 
wife, the daughter of Godwin, has succeeded to the baronetcy. 
It seldom falls to the lot of a son to have illustrious descent 
so heaped upon him; his mother a woman of talents, his 
&ther a man of genius, his grandfather, Godwin, a writer 
secure of immortality ; his grandmother, Grodwin*s wife, the 
celebrated Mary Wollstonecraft : and on the side of his father*8 
ancestors he partakes of the blood of the intellectual as well 
as patrician family of the Sackvilles. But, what is most of 
all, his own intelligent and liberal nature makes him worthy 
of all this lustre. 

VOL. II. O 



194 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

with his friends (to whom his house was ever open)^ 
again walked out^ and nsually finished with reading 
to his wife till ten o'clock, when he went to bed. 
This was his daily existence. His book was generally 
Plato^ or Horner^ or one of the Greek tragedians, or 
the Bible, in which last he took a great, though 
peculiar, and often admiring interest. One of his 
favourite parts was the book of Job. The writings 
attributed to Solomon he thought too Epicurean, in 
the modem sense of the word ; and in his notions 
of St. Paul, he agreed with the writer of the work 
entitled Not Paul but Jesus^ For his Christianity, in 
the proper sense of the word, he went to the gospel 
of St. James, and to the Sermon on the Mount by 
Christ himself, for whose truly divine spirit he enter- 
tained the greatest reverence. There was nothing 
which embittered his enemies against him more than 
the knowledge of this fact. His want of faith, 
indeed, in the letter, and his exceeding faith in the 
spirit, of Christianity, formed a comment, the one on 
the other, very formidable to those who choose to 
forget what scripture itself observes on that point.* 

As an instance of Shelley's extraordinary gene- 
rosity, a friend of his, a man of letters, enjoyed f5rom 
him at that period a pension of a hundred a year, 
though he had but a thousand of his own ; and he 

* " For the letter killeth, but the spirit ^veth life." 



BHELLEY. 195 

continued to enjoy it till fortune rendered it supers 
fluouB. Bat the princeUness of his disposition was 
seen most in his behaviour to another friend^ the 
writer of this memoir, who is proud to relate, that 
with money raised by an elFort, Shelley once made 
him a present of fourteen hundred pounds, to ex- 
tricate him from debt. I was not extricated, {o^ 
I had not yet learned to be careful: but the 
shame of not being so, after such generosity, and 
the pain which my friend afterwards underwent 
when I was in trouble and he was helpless, were the 
first causes of my thinking of money-matters to any 
purpose. His last sixpence was ever at my service, 
had I chosen to share it In a poetical epistle written 
some years afterwards, and published in the volume 
of Posthumous Poems, Shelley, in alluding to his 
friend's circumstances, which for the second time 
were then straitened, only made an affisctionate lamen- 
tation that he himself was poor ; never once hinting 
that he had already drained his purse for his Mend. 

To return to Hampstead. — Shelley often came 
there to see me, sometimes to stop for several days. 
He delighted in Ae natural broken ground, and in 
the fresh air of the place, especially when the wind 
set in from the north-west, which used to give him 
an intoxication of animal spirits. Here also he swam 
Ins paper boats on the poncb, and delighted to play 
with my diildren, particularly with my eldest boy, 

o 2 



196 LIFE or LEIGH HUNT. 

the seriousness of whose imagination^ and his sus- 
ceptibility of a *' grim" impression (a favourite epithet 
of Shelley's), highly interested him. He would play 
at " frightful creatures" with him, from which the 
other would snatch " a fearful joy," only begging him 
occasionally " not to do the horn," which was a way 
that Shelley had of screwing up his hair in front, to 
imitate a weapon of that sort. This was the boy 
(now a man of forty, and himself a fine writer) to 
whom Lamb took such a liking on similar accounts, 
and addressed some charming verses as his " favourite 
child." I have already mentioned him during my im- 
prisonment. 

As an instance of Shelley's playfulness when he 
was in good spirits, he was once going to town with 
me in the Hampstead stage, when our only com- 
panion was an old lady, who sat silent and still after 
the English fashion. Shelley was fond of quoting a 
passage from RicJiafd the Second^ in the commence- 
ment of which the king, in the indulgence of his 
misery, exclaims — 

" For Heaven's sake, let us sit upon the ground, 
And tell sad stories of the death of kings. 

Shelley, who had been moved into the ebullition by 

something objectionable which he thought he saw 

in the face of our companion, startled her into a 

look of the most ludicrous astonishment, by suddenly 

calling this passage to mind, and in his enthusiastic 



SHELLEY. 1 97 

tone of voice, addressing me by name with the first 
two lines. "Hunt I" he exclaimed, — 

" For Heaven's sake, let us sit upon the ground, 
And tell sad stories of the death of kings." 

The old lady looked on the coach-floor, as if expect- 
ing to see us take our seats accordingly. 

But here follows a graver and more character- 
istic anecdote. Shelley was not only anxious for 
the good of mankind in general We have seen, 
what he proposed on the subject of Reform in Par- 
liament, and he was always very desirous of the 
national welfare. It was a moot point when he 
entered your room, whether he would begin with 
some half-pleasant, half-pensive joke, or quote some- 
thing Greek, or ask some question about public 
affairs. He once came upon me at Hampstead, when 
I had not seen him for some time ; and after grasping 
my hands into both his, in his usual fervent manner, 
he sat down, and looked at me very earnestly, with 
a deep, though not melancholy, interest in his face. 
We were sitting with our knees to the fire, to which 
we had been getting nearer and nearer, in the comfort 
of finding ourselves together. The pleasure of seeing 
him was my only feeling at the moment ; and the air 
of domesticity about us was so complete, that I thought 
he was going to speak of some family matter, either 
his or my own, when he asked me, at the close of an 



198 LIFE or LEIGH HUNT. 

intensity of pause, what was '' the amount oi the 
National Debt.** 

I used to rally him on the apparent inconsequen- 
tialitj of his manner upon those occasions^ and he 
was always ready to carry on the jest, because he 
said that my laughter did not hinder my being in 
earnest. 

But here follows a crowmng anecdote, into which 
I shall dose my recollections of him at this period. 
We shall meet him again in Italy, and there^ alas ! I 
shall have to relate events graver stilL 

I was returning home one night to Hampstead after 
the opera. As I approached the door, I heard strange 
and alarming shrieks, mixed with the voice of a man. 
The next day, it was reported by the gossips that 
Mr. ^elley, no Christian (for it was he who was 
there), had brought some ^^very strazige female" into 
the house, no better, of coarse, than she ought to be. 
The real Christian had puzzled them. I^ielley, 
in coming to our house that night, had found a 
woman, lying near the top of the hill, in fits. It was 
a fieree winter night, with snow upon the ground ; 
and winter loses nothing of its fierceness at Hamp- 
stead. My friend^ always the promptest as well as 
most pitying on these occasions, knocked at the fiist 
houses he could reads, in afder to have the woman 
taken in. The invariable answer was, that they 
could not da it He adked for an outhouse to put 



PAUCITY OF CHBISTIAKS. 199 

her in, while he went for a doctor. Impossible I In 
vain, he assured them she was no impostor. They 
would not dispute the point with him ; but doors 
were closed, and windows were shut down. Had he 
lit upon worthy Mr. Park, the philologist, he would 
assuredly have come, in spite of his Calvinism. But 
he lived too far off. Had he lit upon my friend, 
Armitage Brown, who lived on another side of the 
heath ; or on his friend and neighbour, Dilke ; 
they would, either of them, have jumped up from 
amidst their books or their bed-clothes, and have 
gone out with him. But the paucity of Christians is 
astonishing, considering the number of them. Time 
flies ; the poor woman is in convulsions ; her son, a 
young man, lamenting over her. At last my friend 
sees a carriage driving up to a house at a little 
distance. The knock is given ; the warm door 
opens ; servants and lights pour forth. Now, thought 
he, is the time. He puts on his best address, which 
anybody might recognise for that of the highest gen- 
tleman as well as of an interesting individual, and 
plants himself in the way of an elderly person, who is 
stepping out of the carriage with his family. He 
tells his story. They only press on the faster. 
" Will you go and see her ?" ** No, sir ; there's no 
necessity for that sort of thing, depend on it. Im- 
postors swarm everywhere : the thing cannot be 
done; sir, your conduct is extraordinary.'* "Sir," 



/■ 



200 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

cried Shelley^ assuming a very different manner, 
and forcing the flourishing householder to stop out 
of astonishment, ** I am sorry to say that your con- 
duct is not extraordinary; and if my own seems 
to amaze you, I will tell you something which 
may amaze you a little more, and I hope will 
frighten you. It is such men as you who madden 
the spirits and the patience of the poor and wretched ; 
and if ever a convulsion comes in this country (which 
is very probable), recollect what I tell you 2 — ^you 
will have your house^ that you refuse to put the 
miserable woman into, burnt over your head." '^ God 
bless me, sir! Dear me, sir I" exclaimed the poor 
frightened man, and fluttered into his mansion. The 
woman was then brought to our house, which was at 
some distance^ and down a bleak path ; and Shelley 
and her son were obliged to hold her till the doctor 
could arrive. It appeared that she had been attend- 
ing this son in London, on a driminal charge made 
against him, the agitation of which had thrown her 
into the fits on her return. The doctor said that she 
would have perished, had she lain there a short time 
longer. The next day my friend sent mother and 
son comfortably home to Hendon, where they were 
known, and whence they returned him thanks full 
of gratitude. 



KEATS. 201 



CHAPTER XVL 

KEATS, LAMB, AND COLERIDGE. 

Charles Cowden Clarke* — KeaU and Shelley, — Mr, Monckton 
Milnes's Letters and Remains of Keats. — " Other-worldliness,'* — 
Jrmitage Brown, — Keats and Lamb, — Wordsworth on Shak- 
speare, — Milton dining. — Keats and Byron, — Keats in Italy. — 
His death and personal appearance, — ** Foliage,*^ — The Lidicator. 
^-Tasso's Aminta. — Foolish ignorance of business, — Mr, Lockhart, 
— Personal appearance of Lamb. — Character of his genius, — His 
bon-mots and imaginarg notices of his friends, — Person of Cole- 
ridge, — Character of his genius. — Coleridge and Hazlitt, — Cole- 
ridge^s conversation and daily habits. 

And now to speak of Keats, who was introduced to 
me by his schoobnaster's son, Charles Cowden Clarke, 
a man of a most genial nature, and corresponding 
poetical taste, admirably well qualified to nourish the 
genius of his pupil. 

I had not known the young poet long, when 
Shelley and he became acquainted under my roof. 
Keats did not take to Shelley as kindly as Shelley 
did to him. Shelley's only thoughts of his new 
acquaintance were such as regarded his bad health, 
with which he sympathized, and his poetry, of 



202. LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

which he has left such a monument of his admiration 
in Adonais. Keats^ being a little too sensitive on the 
score of nis origin, felt inclined to see in every man 
of birth a sort of natural enemy. Their styles in 
writing also were very different; and Keats, not- 
withstanding his imbounded sympathies with ordi- 
nary flesh and blood, and even the transcendental 
cosmopolitics of Hyperion^ was so far inferior in 
universality to his great acquaintance, that he could 
not accompany him in his daedal rounds with nature, 
and his Archimedean endeavours to move the globe 
with his own hands. I am bound to state thus 
much; because, hopeless of recovering his healthy 
under circumstances that made the feeling extremely 
bitter, aa irritable morbidity appears even to have 
driven his suspicions to excess; and this not only 
with regard to the acquaintance whom he might 
reasonably suppose to have had some advantages, 
over him, but to myself, who had none ; for I learned 
the other day, with extreme pain, such as I am sure 
so kind and reflecting a man as Mr. Monckton MUnes 
would not have inflicted on me could he have fore- 
seen it, that Keats at one period of his intercourse 
with us suspected both Shelley and myself of a wish 
to see him undervalued I Such are the tricks which 
constant infelicity can play with the most noble 
natures. For Shelley, let Adonais answer. For 
myself, let every word answer which I uttered about 



KEATS. 203 

Imn, Hying and dead, and such as I now proceed 
to repeat. I might as well have been told, that I 
wkhed to see the flowers or the stars undervalued, 
or my own heart that loved hinu 

But it was rickness, and passed away. It appears, 
hj Mr.'MUnes's book, that all his friends dissatisfied 
him in the course of those trials of his temper ; and 
my friend, Mr. Milnes (for that distinguished person 
honours me with his friendship, and can afford the 
objection), will allow me to say, that those Letters 
and Bemains of the yoimg poet were not among his 
happiest effusions, nor wanting to supply a certain 
force of character to his memory. That memory 
possessed force enough already for those who were 
qualified to discern it; and those who were not, 
hardly deserved to have their own notions of energy 
flattered at the poet's expense. He was already 
known to have personally chastised a blackguard, and 
to have been the author of Hyperion; 

" That large utterance of the early gods." 

What more could have been necessary to balance 
the trembling excess of sensibility in his earlier 
poems ? The world has few enough incarnations of 
poets themselves in Arcadian shapes, to render ne- 
cessary any deterioration of such as it has the luck 
to possess. 

But periiaps my own personal feelings induce me 



204 LIFE OF LEIGH HCXT. 

to carry this matter too far. In the publication 
alluded to is a contemptuous reference (not by Mr. 
Milnes) to a paper in the Examiner on the season of 
Christmas. I turned to it with new feelings of 
anxiety; and there, besides finding no warrant for 
such reference (unless a certain tone of self-com- 
placency, so often regretted in this autobiography, 
can have justified it), I had the good fortune to be 
compensated with discovering a phrase, which re- 
minded me of one of the most consolatory passages 
of my life. I hope I am not giving fresh instance 
of a weakness which I suppose myself to have out- 
grown ; much less appropriating an invention which 
does not belong to me; but an accomplished au- 
thoress one day (Mrs. Jameson), at the table of my 
friend Barry Cornwall, quoted the term **other- 
worldliness " from Coleridge. I said Coleridge was 
rich enough not to need the transference to him of 
other men's property ; and that I felt so much 
honoured by the supposition in this instance, that 
I could not help claiming the word as my own. If 
Coleridge, indeed, used it before me, I can only say 
that I was not aware of it, and that my own reflec- 
tions, very much accustomed to that side of specu- 
lation, would have suggested an identical thought. 
And I should be glad if any reader would tell me 
in what part of his writings it is to be found. 

Now, one of my reasons for alluding to this circum- 



KEATS. 205 

stance is^ that a stranger once came up to me in 
company^ and said he had to thank me for a great 
benefit done him by a single word in one of my 
papers. I inquired, with no Kttle interest, what it 
was ; and he said it was the word in question ; — 
probably in the passage just quoted. He told me 
it had relieved him, by one flash of light, from a 
long load of mistake and melancholy; for it had 
shown him the real character of those aspira- 
tions after heaven in a certain class of minds 
(his teachers), which are as grossly self-seeking as 
the earthliest, and even set it up as a merit and 
a sanctification. 

Keats appears to have been of opinion, that I 
ought to have taken more notice of what the critics 
said against him. And perhaps I ought. My no- 
tices of them may not have been sufficient. I may 
have too much contented myself with panegyrizing 
his genius, and thinking the objections to it of no 
ultimate importance. Had he given me a hint to 
another effect, I should have acted upon it. But in 
truth, as I have before intimated, I did not see a 
twentieth part of what was said against us ; nor had 
I the slightest notion, at that period, that he took 
criticism so much to heart. I was in the habit, 
though a public man, of living in a world of abstrac- 
tions of my own ; and I regarded him as of a nature 
still more abstracted, and sure of renown. Though 



206 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

I was a politician (so to speak), I had scarcely a 
political work in my library. Spensers and Arabian 
Tales filled up the shelves ; and Spenser himself was 
not remoter, in my eyes, from all the commonplaces 
of life, than my new friend. Our whole talk was 
made up of idealisms. In the streets we were in 
the thick of the old woods. I little suspected, as I 
did afterwards, that the hunters had struck him; 
and never at any time did I 8uq)ect, that he could 
have imagined it desired by his friends. — ^Let me 
quit the subject of so afflicting a delusion. 

In everything but this reserve, which was to a 
certain extent encouraged by my own incuriousness 
(for I have no reserve myself with those whom I 
love), — in every other respect but this, Keats and I 
might have been taken for friends of the old stamp, 
between whom there was no such thing even as 
obligation, except the pleasure of it. I could not 
love him as deeply as I did SheUey. That was 
impossible. But my affection was only second to 
the one which I entertained for that heart of hearts* 
Keats, like Shelley himself, enjoyed the usual privi- 
lege of greatness with all whom he knew, rendering 
it delightful to be obliged by him, and an equal, but 
not greater, delight to oblige. It was a pleasure to 
his friends to have him in their houses, and he did 
not grudge it. When Endymwn was published, he 
was living at Hampstead with his friend, Charles 



KEATS. 207 

Armitage Brown, who attended him most affection- 
ately through a severe iUness, and with whom, to 
their great mutual enjoyment, he had taken a 
journey into Scotland. The lakes and mountains of 
the north delighted him exceedingly. He beheld 
them with an epic eye. Afterwards, he went into 
the south, and luxuriated in the Isle of Wight. 
On Brown's leaying home a second time, to 
visit the same quarter, Keats, who was too iU to 
accompany him, came to reside with me, when his 
last and best volume of poems appeared, containing 
Lawia^ Isabella^ the £ve of St AgneSy and the noble 
fragment of Hyperwru I remember Lamb's delight 
and admiration on reading this book; how pleased 
he was with the designation of Mercury as ^^the 
star of Lethe " (rising, as it were, and glittering as 
he came upon that pale region) ; and the fine daring 
anticipation in that passage of the second poem, — 

'* So the two brothers and their murdered man 
Rode past fair Florence." 

So also the description, at once delicate and gor- 
geous, of Agnes praying beneath the painted win- 
dow. The public are now well acquainted with 
those and other passages, for which Persian kings 
would have filled a poet's mouth with gold. I re- 
member Keats reading to me with great relish 
and particularity, conscious of what he had set forth. 



208 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

the lines describing the supper, and ending with the 

words, 

** Lucent syrops tinct with cmnamon.** 

Mr. Wordsworth would have said that the vowels, 
were not varied enough ; but Keats knew where his 
vowels were not to be varied. On the occasion above 
alluded to, Wordsworth found fault with the repeti- 
tion of the concluding sound of the participles in 
Shakspeare's line about bees: — 

'* The singing masons building roofs of gold.** 

This, he said, was a line which Milton would never 
have written. Keats thought, on the other hand^ 
that the repetition was in harmony with the continued 
note of the singers, and that Shakspeare's negligence 
(if negligence it was) had instinctively felt the thing 
in the best manner. The assertion about Milton is 
startling, considering the tendency of that great poet 
to subject his nature to art; yet I have dipped, 
while writing this, into Paradise Losty and at the 
second chance have lit on the following : — 

" The gray 
Dawn, and the Pleiades before him danced, 
Shedding sweet influence. Less bright the moon, 
But opposite, in levelled ivest, was set 
His mirrour, with full force borrowing her light. 

The repetition of the e in the fourth line is an 
extreme case in point, being monotonous in order to 



KEATS. 209 

express oneness and evenness. Milton would have 
relished the supper, which his young successor, like 
a page for him, has set forth. It was Keats who 
observed to me, that Milton, in various parts of his 
writings, has shown himself a bit of an epicure, and 
loves to talk of good eating. That he was choice in 
his food, and set store by a good cook, there is curious 
evidence to be found in the proving of his Will ; 
by which it appears, that dining one day "in the 
kitchen," he complimented Mrs. Milton, by the 
appropriate title of "Betty," on the dish she had 
set before him ; adding, as if he could not pay her 
too well for it, ^^ Thou knowest I have left thee all." 
Henceforth let a kitchen be illustrious, should a 
gentleman choose to take a cutlet in it. But houses 
and their customs were different in those days. 

Keats had felt that his disease was mortal, two or 
three years before he died. He had a constitutional 
tendency to consumption ; a close attendance on the 
deathbed of a beloved brother, when he ought to 
have been nursing himself in bed, gave it a blow 
which he felt for months. Despairing love (that is 
to say, despairing of living to enjoy it, for the love 
was returned) added its hourly torment ; and, mean- 
while, the hostile critics came up, and roused an 
indignation in him, both against them and himself, 
which on so many accounts he could ill afford to 
endure. 

YOL. II. p 



210 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

When I was in Italy, Lord Byron shewed me in 
manuscript the well-known passage in Don Juan^ in 
which Keats's death is attributed to the Quarterly 
Beview ; the couplet about the " fiery particle," that 
was *^ snuffed out by an article." I told him the real 
state of the case, proving to him that the supposition 
was a mistake, and therefore, if printed, would be a 
misrepresentation. But a stroke of wit was not 
to be given up. 

Seeing him once change countenance in a manner 
more alarming than usual, as he stood silently eyeing 
the country out of window, I pressed him to let me 
know how he felt, in order that he might enable me 
to do what I could for him ; upon which he said, that 
his feelings were almost more than he could bear, 
and that he feared for his senses. I proposed that 
we should take a coach, and ride about the country 
together, to vary, if possible, the immediate impres- 
sion, which was sometimes all that was formidable, 
and would come to nodiing. He acquiesced, and 
was restored to himself. It was, nevertheless, on the 
same day, that sitting on the bench in Well Walk, at 
Hampstead, nearest the Heath,* that he told me, 
with unaccustomed tears in his eyes, that ^^ his heart 
was breaking." A doubt, however, was upon him at 
the time, which he afterwards had reason to know 
— ■ ■ I - I ■■ - ' ■ - ■ .11 .1 I I.I 

* The one against the wall. 



KEATS. 211 

was groundless ; and during his residence at the last 
house which he occupied before he went abroad, he 
was at times more than tranquiL At length, he was 
persuaded by his friends to try the milder climate of 
Italy. He thought it better for others as well as him- 
self, that he should go. He was accompanied by Mr. 
Severn, then a young artist of a promise equal to his 
subsequent repute, and who possessed all that could 
reconunend him for a companion — old acquaintance- 
ship, great animal spirits, active tenderness, and a 
mind capable of appreciating that of the poet. They 
went first to Naples, and afterwards to Bome ; where, 
on the 27th of December 1820, our author died in 
the arms of his friend, completely worn out, and 
longing for the release. He suffered so much in his 
lingering, that he used to watch the countenance of 
the physician for the favourable and fatal sentence, 
and express his regret when he found it delayed. 
Yet no impatience escaped him. He was manly and 
gentle to the last, and grateful for all services. A 
little before he died, he said that he " felt the daisies 
growing over him." But he made a still more touch- 
ing remark respecting his epitaph. "If any," he 
said, "were put over him, he wished it to consist 
of nothing but these words : * Here lies one whose 
name was writ in water :' " — so little did he think of 
the more than promise he had given;— of the fine 
and lasting things he had added to the stock of 

P 2 



212 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

poetry. The physicians expressed their astonish- 
ment that he had held out so long, the lungs turning 
out, on inspection, to have heen almost obliterated. 
They said he must have lived upon the mere strength 
of the spirit within him. He was interred in the 
English burying-ground at Rome, near the monument 
of Caius Cestius, where his great mourner, Shelley, 
was shortly to join him. 

Keats, when he died, had just completed his four- 
and-twentieth year. He was under the middle 
height ; and his lower limbs were small in compa- 
rison with the upper, but neat and well turned. His 
shoulders were very broad for his size: he ha4 a 
face in which energy and sensibility were remark- 
ably mixed up ; an eager power, checked and made 
patient by ill health. Every feature was at once 
strongly cut, and delicately alive. If there was any 
faulty expression, it was in the mouth, which was 
not without something of a character of pugnacity. 
The face was rather long than otherwise ; the upper 
lip projected a little over the under ; the chin was 
bold, the cheeks sunken ; the eyes mellow and glow- 
ing ; large, dark, and sensitive. At the recital of a 
noble action, or a beautiful thought, they would suf- 
fuse with tears, and his mouth trembled. In this, 
there was ill health as well as imagination, for he did 
not like these betrayals of emotion ; and he had great 
personal as well as moral courage. He once chas- 



KEATS. 213 

tised a butcher, who had been Insolent, by a regular 
stand-up fight. His hair, of a brown colour, was 
fine, and hung in natural ringlets. The head was a 
puzzle for the phrenologists, being remarkably small 
in the skull; a singularity which he had in common 
with Byron and Shelley, whose hats I could not get 
on. Keats was sensible of the disproportion, above 
noticed, between his upper and lower extremities; 
and he would look at his hand, which was faded, and 
swollen in the veins, and say it was the hand of a 
man of fifty. He was a seven months' child. His 
mother, who was a lively woman, passionately fond 
of amusement, is supposed to have hastened her 
death by too great an inattention to hours and 
seasons. Perhaps she hastened that of her son. His 
father died of a fall from his horse in the year 
1804. 

I have endeavoured, in another publication,* to 
characterize the poetry of Keats, both in its merits 
and defects. It is not necessary to repeat them 
here. The public have made up their minds on the 
subject ; and such of his first opponents as were men 
of genius themselves, but suffered their perceptions to 
be obscured by political prejudice (as who has not in 
such times ?) have long agreed with, or anticipated the 
verdict. Sir Walter Scott confessed to Mr. Severn 



* Imagination and Fancy, p. ^12. 



214 LIFE OF LEIGH. HUNT. 

at Rome, that the truth respecting Keats had pre- 
vailed; and it would have been strange, indeed, 
when the heat of the battle was over, had not 
Christopher North stretched out his large and warm 
hand to his memory. Times arrive, under the hal- 
lowing infiuenoes of thought and trouble, when genius 
is as sure to acknowledge genius, as it is to feel its 
own wants, and to be willing to share its glory. A 
man's eyes, the manlier they are, perceive at last, 
that there is nothing nobler in them than their tears. 
It was during my intimacy with Keats that I pub- 
lished a hasty set of miscellaneous poems, under the 
title of Foliagey and wrote the set of essays that have 
since become popular under that of the Indicator. 
About this time also, I translated the Aminta of 
Tasso, a poem (be it said with the leave of so great 
a name) hardly worth the trouble, though the pro- 
logue is a charming presentment of love in masque- 
rade, and the Ode on the Golden Age a sigh out of 
the honestest part of the heart of humanity. But I 
translated it to enable me to meet some demands, 
occasioned by the falling off in the receipts of the 
Examiner y now declining under the twofold vicissi- 
tude of triumphaiit ascendancy in the Tories, and 
the desertion of reform by the WJugs. The Indi- 
cator assisted me still more, though it was but pub- 
lished in a corner, owing to my want of funds for 
advertising it, and my ignorance of the best mode of 



THE "INDICATOE. 215 

Circulating such things ; — an ignorance so profound, 
that I was not even aware of its very self; for I had 
never attended, not only to the business part of the 
Examiner y but to the simplest money-matter that 
stared at me on the face of it I could never tell 
anybody who asked me, what was the price of its 
stamp ! 

Do I boast of this ignorance ? Alas 1 1 have no such 
respect for the pedantry of absurdity as that. I blush 
for it ; and I only record it out of a sheer painful 
movement of conscience, as a warning to those young 
authors who might be led to look upon such folly as a 
fine thing ; which at all events is what I never thought 
it myself. I did not think about it at all, except to 
avoid the thought ; and I only wish that the strangest 
accidents of education, and the most inconsiderate 
habit of taking books for the only ends of life, had 
not conspired to make me so ridiculous I am feel- 
ing the consequences at this moment, in pangs which 
I cannot explain, and which I may not live long 
enough perhaps to escape. 

Let me console myself a little by remembering 
how much Hazlitt and Lamb, and others, were 
pleased with the Indicator, I speak most of them, 
because they talked most to me about it. Hazlitt's 
favourite paper (for they liked it enough to have 
favourite papers) was the one on Sleep; perhaps 
because there is a picture in it of a sleeping despot ; 



216 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

though he repeated^ with more enthusiasm than he 
was accustomed to do^ the conclusion about the 
parent and the bride. Lamb preferred the paper on 
Coaches and their HorseSy that on the Deaths of Little 
Children^ and (I think) the one entitled Thoughts and 
Guesses on Human Nature. Shelley took to the story 
of the Fair Revenge; and the paper that was most 
liked by Keats, if I remember, was the one on a hot 
summer's day, entitled A Now. He was with me 
while I was writing and reading it to him, and con- 
tributed one or two of the passages. Keats first 
published in the Indicator his beautiful poem La 
Belle Dame sans Mercy y and the Dream after reading 
Dante^s Episode of Paulo and Francesco^ Lord Hol- 
land, I was told, had a regard for the portraits of 
the Old Lady and the Old Gentleman^ &c, which 
had appeared in the Examiner; and a late gallant 
captain in the navy was pleased to wonder how I 
became so well acquainted with seamen (in the article 
entitled Seamen on Shore). They had ^^sat to me" 
for their portraits. The common saUor was a son 
of my nurse at school, and the officer a connection of 
my own by marriage. 

One of my pleasantest recollections of the Indicator 
is associated with one of my quondam critical enemies, 
— one, indeed, who had the greatest right to be such, 
for he was a connection of Sir Walter Scott. I 
never inquired what particular part he took in his 



CHABLES LAMB. 217 

hostility. I never, in fact, made the inquiry re- 
specting anybody; and there is an excellent old 
Scottish saying, " Let bygones be bygones." I allude 
to the author of Valerius. Mr. Clowes, jun., told 
me, that Mr^ Lockhart happening to see the Indi- 
cator lying one day in his father's office, stood reading 
in it a little, and then said (either to his father or 
himself), " There is good matter in this book, Mr. 
Clowes." The young printer, in his right gentle- 
man's spirit, was good enough to make me acquainted 
with this circumstance ; and I hope it may be as plea- 
sant to Mr. Lockhart to see, as it is to me to re- 
cord it. 

Let me take this opportunity of recording my re- 
collections in general of my friend Lamb ; of all the 
world's friend, particularly of his oldest friends, 
Coleridge and Southey ; for I think he never modi- 
fied or withheld any opinion (in private or bookwards) 
except in consideration of what he thought they 
might not like. 

Charles Lamb had a head worthy of Aristotle, 
with as fine a heart as ever beat in human bosom, 
and limbs very fragile to sustain it. There was 
a caricature of him sold in the shops, which pre- 
tended to be a likeness. Procter went into the 
shop in a passion, and asked the man what he 
meant by putting forth such a libel. The man 
apologized, and said that the artist meant no 



\ 



218 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

offence. There never was a true portrait of Lamb. 
His features were strongly yet delicately cut : 
he had a fine eye as well as forehead; and no 
face carried in it greater marks of thought and 
feeling. It resembled that of Bacon, with less 
worldly vigour and more sensIbiCty. 

As his &ame, so was his genius. It was as 
fit for thought as could be, and equally as unfit 
for action; and this rendered him melancholy, 
apprehensive, humorous, and willing to make the 
best of everything as it was, both from tender- 
ness of heart and abhorrence of alteration. His 
understanding was too great to admit an absur- 
dity; his frame was not strong enough to deliver 
it from 9- fear. His sensibility to strong con- 
trasts was the foundation of his humour, which 
was that of a wit at once melancholy and wilUng 
to be pleased. He would beard a superstition, 
and shudder at the old phantasm while he did it. 
One could have imagined him cracking a jest in 
the teeth of a ghost, and then melting into thin 
air himself, out of a sympathy with the awfuL 
His humour and his knowledge both, were those 
of Hamlet, of Molifere, of Carlin, who shook a 
city with laughter, and, in order to divert his 
melancholy, was recommended to go and hear 
himself. Yet he extracted a real pleasure out of 
his jokes, because good-heartedness retains that 



CHABLES LAMB. 219 

privilege when it fails in everything else. I 
should say he condescended to be a punster, if 
condescension had been a word befitting wisdom 
like his. Being told that somebody had lam- 
pooned him, he said, " Very well. 111 Lamb-pun 
him." His puns were admirable, and often con- 
tained as deep things as the wisdom of some 
who have greater names ; — such a man, for 
instance, as Nicole the Frenchman, who was a 
baby to him. He would have cracked a score 
of jdses at him, worth his whole book of sen- 
tences ; pelted his head with pearls. Nicole would 
not have understood him, but Rochefoucault would, 
and Pascal too ; and some of our old Englishmen 
would have understood him still better. He would 
have been worthy of hearing Shakspeare read 
one of his scenes to him, hot from the brain. 
Commonplace found a great comforter in him, 
as long as it was good-natured; it was to the 
ill-natured or the dictatorial only that he was star- 
tling. Willing to see society go on as it did, 
because he despaired of seeing it otherwise, but 
not at all agreeing in his interior with the com- 
mon notions of crime and punishment, he *^ dumlH 
foundetP a long tirade one evening, by taking the 
pipe out of his mouth, and asking the speaker, 
'^Whether he meant to say that a thief was not 
a good man?" To a person abusing Voltaire, 



220 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

and indiscreetly opposing his character to that of 
Jesus Christ, he said admirably well (though he 
by no means overrated Voltaire, nor wanted reve- 
rence in the other quarter), that "Voltaire was 
a very good Jesus Christ for the French.^ He 
liked to see the church-goers continue to go to 
church, and wrote a tale in his sister's admirable 
little book (^Mrs. Leicester s School) to encourage 
the rising generation to do so; but to a conscien- 
tious deist he had nothing to object; and if an 
atheist had found every other door shut against him, 
he would assuredly not have found his. I believe he 
would have had the world remain precisely as 
it was, provided it innovated no farther; but this 
spirit in him was anything but a worldly one, or 
for his own interest. He hardly contemplated 
with patience the new buildings in the Regent's 
Park: and, privately speaking, he had a grudge 
against official heaven-expounders, or clergymen. 
He would rather, however, have been with a 
crowd that he disliked, than felt himself alone. 
He said to me one day, with a face of great 
solemnity, *^ What must have been that man's 
feelings, who thought himself the first deist f " 
Finding no footing in certainty, he delighted 
to confound the borders of theoretical truth 
and falsehood. He was fond of telling wild 
stories to children, engrafted on things about 



CHARLES LAMB. 221 

them; wrote letters to people abroad, telling 
them that a friend of theirs had come out in 
genteel comedy ; and persuaded George Dyer 
that Lord Castlereagh was the author of Waver- 
leyl The same excellent person walking one 
evening out of his friend's house into the New 
River, Lamb (who was from home at the time) 
wrote a paper under his signature of Elia, stating, 
that common friends would have stood dallying 
on the bank, have sent for neighbours, &c. 
but that he^ in his magnanimity, jumped in, and 
rescued his friend after the old noble fashion. He 
wrote in the same magazine two lives of Liston 
and Munden, which the public took for serious, 
and which exhibit an extraordinary jumble of 
imaginary facts and truth of bye-painting. Mun- 
den he made bom at ^^ Stoke Pogeis:" the very 
sound of which was like the actor speaking and 
digging his words. He knew how many false 
conclusions and pretensions are made by men who 
profess to be guided by facts only, as if facts 
could not be misconceived, or figments taken for 
them; and therefore, one day, when somebody 
was speaking of a person who valued himself on 
being a matter-of-fact man, ^^Now," said he, 
"I value myself on being a matter-of-lie man." 
This did not hinder his being a man of the 
greatest veracity, in the ordinary sense of the 



222 LIFE OF LEIGH HUKT. 

word; but *^ truth," he swid, "was precious, and 
not to be wasted on everybody." Those who 
wish to have a genuine taste of him, and an insight 
into his modes of life, should read his essays on 
Hogarth and King Lear^ his Letters^ his article 
on the London Streets^ on Whist^Playing, which 
he loves, and on Saying Gra^e before Meat, 
which he thinks a strange moment to select for 
being grateful. He said once to a brother whist- 
player, whose hand was more clever than clean, 
and who had enough in him to afford the joke, 
" M., if dirt were trumps, what hands you would 
hold." 

Lamb had seen strange- faces of calamity; but 
they did not make him love those of his fellow- 
creatures the less. Few persons guessed what 
he had suffered in the course of his life, till 
his friend Talfourd wrote an account of it, and 
shewed the hapless warping that disease had 
given to the fine brain of his sister. 

I will append to this account of Lamb, though 
I had not the good fortune to know much of 
him personally, my impression respecting his friend 
Coleridge. 

Coleridge was as little fitted for action as Lamb, 
but on a different account. His person was of a 
good height, but as sluggish and solid as the other's 
was light and fragile. He had, perhaps, suffered 



GOLEKIDGE. 223 

it to look old before its time, for want of exer- 
cise. His hair was white at fifty ; and as he 
generally dressed in black, and had a very tran- 
quil demeanour, his appearance was gentlemanly, 
and for several years before his death was reve- 
rend. Nevertheless, there was something invin- 
cibly young in the look of his face. It was 
round and fresh-coloured, with agreeable features, 
and an open, indolent, good-natured mouth. This 
boy-like expression was very becoming in one 
who dreamed and speculated as he did when he 
was reaJly a boy, and who passed Ms life apart from 
the rest of the world, with a book, and his flowers. 
His forehead was prodigious, — a great piece of placid 
marble ; — and his fine eyes, in which all the activity 
of his mind seemed to concentrate, moved under it 
with a sprightly ease, as if it was pastime to them 
to carry all that thought. 

And it was pastime. Hazlitt said, that Cole- 
ridge's genius appeared to him like a spirit, all 

head and wings, eternally floating about in ethere- 
alities. He gave me a different impression. I 
fancied him a good-natured wizard, very fond of 
earth, and conscious of reposing with weight 
enough in his easy chair, but able to conjure his 
etherealities about him in the twinkling of an 
eye. He could also change them by thousands, 
and dismiss them as easily when his dinner 



224 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

came. It was a mighty intellect put upon a 
sensual body; and the reason why he did little 
more with it than talk and dream was, that it is 
agreeable to such a body to do little else. I do not 
mean that Coleridge was a sensualist in an ill 
sense. He was capable of too many innocent 
pleasures, to take any pleasure in the way that 
a man of the world would take it. The idlest 
things he did would have had a warrant. But 
if all the senses, in their time, did not find 
lodging in that humane plenitude of his, never 
believe that they did in Thomson or in Boccaccio. 
Two aflSrmatives in him made a negative. He 
was very metaphysical and very corporeal; so in 
mooting everything, he said (so to speak) nothing. 
His brains pleaded all sorts of questions before 
him, and he heard them with so much impar- 
tiality (his spleen not giving him any trouble) 
that he thought he might as well sit in his easy 
chair and hear them for ever, without coming to 
a conclusion. It has been said (indeed, he said 
himself) that he took opium to deaden the sharp- 
ness of his cogitations. I will venture to affirm, 
that if he ever took anything to deaden a sen- 
sation within him, it was for no greater or more 
marvellous reason than other people take it ; which 
is, becaus^-tiiey do not take enough exercise, 
and so plague their heads with their livers. Opium, 



COLERIDGE, 225 

perhaps^ might have settled an uneasiness of this sort 
in Coleridge, as it did in a much less man with a 
much greater body — ^the Shadwell of Dryden. He 
would then resume his natural ease, and sit, and 
be happy, till the want of exercise must be again 
supplied. The vanity of criticism, like all our 
other vanities, except that of dress (which, so 
far, has an involuntary philosophy in it), is always 
forgetting that we are half made up of body. 
Hazlitt was angry with Coleridge for not being as 
zealous in behalf of progress as he used to be when 
young. I was sorry for it, too ; and if other 
men as well as Hazlitt had not kept me in 
. heart, should have feared that the world was des- 
tined to be for ever lost, for want either of perse- 
verance or calmness. But Coleridge had less right 
to begin his zeal in favour of liberty, than he 
had to leave it off. He should have bethought 
himself, first, whether he had the courage not to 
get fat. 

As to the charge against him, of eternally 
probing the depths of his own mind, and trying 
what he could make of them beyond the ordi- 
nary pale of logic and philosophy, surely there 
was no harm in a man taking this new sort of 
experiment upon him, whatever little chance there 
* may have been of his doing anything with it. 
Coleridge, after all, was but one man, though 

VOL. II. Q 



226 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

an extraordinary man: his hcvlties inclined him 
to the tas&j and were suitable to it; and it is 
impossible to say what new worlds may be laid 
open, some day or other, by this apparently 
hopeless process. The fault of Coleridge, like 
that of all thinkers indisposed to action, was, that 
he was too content with things as they were, — 
at least, too fond of thinking that old corruptions 
were full of good things, lif the world did but 
understand them. Now, here was the dilemma; 
for it required an understanding like his own to 
lefine upon and turn them to good as he might 
do; and what the world requires is not metaphy- 
sical refinement, but a hearty use of good sense. 
Coleridge, indeed, could refine his meaning so 
as to accommodate it with great good-nature to 
every one that came across him; and, doubtless, 
he found more agreement of intention among 
people of different opinions, than they them- 
selves were aware of; which it was good to let 
them see. But when not enchained by his har* 
mony, they fell asunder again, or went and com- 
mitted the greatest absurdities for want of the 
subtle connecting tie; as was seen in the books 
of Mr. Irving, who, eloquent in one page, and 
reasoning in a manner that a child ought to be 
ashamed of in the next, thought to avail him- 
self, in times like these^ of the old menacing tones of 



COLEKIDGE. 227 

damnation^ withoat being thought a quack or an 
idiots purely because Coleridge had shewn him, last 
Friday^ that damnation was not what its preachers 
took it for. TVith the same subtlety and good- 
nature of interpretation^ Coleridge would persuade 
a deist that he was a Christian^ and an atheist 
that he believed in God: all which would be 
very good, if the world could get on by it, and 
not remain stationary ; but, meanwhile, millions are 
wretched with having too little to eat, and thou- 
sands with having too much; and these subtleties 
are like people talking in their sleep, when they 
should be up and helping. 

However, if the world is to remain always as 
it is, give me to all eternity new talk of Coleridge, 
and new essays of Charles Lamb. They will re- 
concile it beyond all others : and that is much. 

Coleridge was fat, and began to lament, in very 
delightfiil verses, that he was getting mfirm. There 
was no old age in his verses. I heard him one day, 
under the Grove at Highgate, repeat one of his 
melodious lamentations, as he walked up and 
down, his voice undulating in a stream of music, and 
his regrets of youth sparkling with visions ever 
young. At the same time, he did me the honour to 
show me that he did not think so ill of all modem 
UberaUsm as some might suppose, denouncing the 
pretensions of the money-getting in a style which I 

Q 2 



228 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

should hardly venture upon, and never could equal ; 
and asking with a triumphant eloquence, what 
chastity Itself were worth, if It were a casket, not 
to keep love in, but hate, and strife, and worldliness? 
On the same occasion, he built up a metaphor out of 
a flower. In a style surpassing the famous passage in 
Milton ; deducing It from Its root In religious mys- 
tery, ind carrying it up into the bright, consummate 
flower, ^^the bridal chamber of reproductlveness." 
Of all "the Muse's mysteries," he was as great a 
high-priest as Spenser ; and Spenser himself might 
have gone to HIghgate to hear him talk, and thank 
him for his "Ancient Mariner." His voice did 
not always sound very sincere; but perhaps the 
humble and deprecating tone of It, on those occa- 
sions, was out of consideration for the infirmities 
of his hearers, rather than produced by his own. 
He recited his " Kubla Khan," one morning to Lord 
Byron, in his lordship's house in Piccadilly, when I 
happened to be In another room. I remember the 
other's coming away from him, highly struck with his 
poem, and saying how wonderfully he talked. This 
was the Impression of everybody who heard him. 

It is no secret that Coleridge lived in the Grove at 
Highgate with a friendly family, who had sense and 
kindness enough to know that they did themselves 
honour by looking after the comforts of such a man. 
His room looked upon a delicious proppect of wood 



COLERIDGE. 229 

and meadow, with coloured gardens under the win- 
dow, like an embroidery to the mantle. I thought, 
when I first saw it, that he had taken up his dwell- 
ing-place like an abbot. Here he cultivated his 
flowers, and had a set of birds for his pensioners, who 
came to breakfast with him. He might have been 
seen taking his daily stroll up and down, with his 
black coat and white locks, and a book in his hand; 
and was a great acquaintance of the little children. 
His main occupation, I believe, was reading. He 
loved to read old folios, and to make old voyages 
with Purchas and Marco Polo; the seas being in 
good visionary condition, and the vessel well stocked 
with botargoes."^ 

* For a more critical summary of my opinions respecting 
Coleridge's poetry (which I take upon the whole to have been 
the finest of its time ; that is to say, the most quintessential, 
the most purely emanating from imaginative feeling, un- 
adulterated by "thoughts" and manner), the reader may, if he 
pleases, consult Imagination and Fancy, p. 276. 



230 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT, 



CHAPTER XVn. 

VOYAGE TO ITALY. 

Seasons of the author^ s voyage to Italy, — Desiderata in accounts of 
voyagers. — Gunpowder. — Setting off, — Noisy navigation of small 
vessels. — Cabin and berths. — Sea-captains. — Deal pilots and 
boatmen. — Putting in at Ramsgate. — Condorcefs " Progress of 
Society." — A French vessel and its occupants. — Setting off again, 
— Memorable stormy season, — Character of the captain and mate. 
— Luigi Rivarola. — Notices of the sailors. — Watching at night. 
'—Discomforts of sea in winter. — A drunken cook. — A goat and 
ducks. — Hypochondria. — Dullness and superstition of sailors. — 
A gale of fifty-six hours. 

It was not at Hampstead that I first saw Keats. It 
was in York -buildings, in the New-road (No. 8), 
where I wrote part of the Indicator; and he resided 
with me while in Mortimer-terrace, Kentish-town 
(No. 13), where I concluded it. I mention this for 
the curious in such things ; among whom I am one. 

I proceed to hasten over the declining fortunes 
of the Examiner. Politics different from ours 
were triumphiug aU over Europe ; public sympathy 
(not the most honourable circumstance of its cha« 



VOYAGE TO ITALY. 231 

racter) is apt to be too much qualified by fortune. 
Shelley, who had been for some time in Italy, had 
often invited me abroad; and I had as repeatedly 
declined going, for the reason stated in my account 
of him. That reason was done away by a proposal 
fr<Mn Lord Byron to go and set up a liberal periodical 
publication in conjunction with them both. I wa9 
iU ; it was thought by many I could not live ; my 
wife was very ill too ; my family was numerous ; and 
it was agreed by my brother John, that while a 
struggle was made in England to reanimate the 
Examiner^ a simultaneous endeavour should be made 
in Italy to secure new aid to our prospects, and new 
friends to the cause of liberty. My family, there- 
fore, packed up such goods and chattels as they had 
a regard for, my books in particular, and we took, 
with strange new thoughts and feelings, but in high 
expectation, our journey by sea. 

It was not very discreet to go many hundred 
miles by sea in winter-time with a large family ; but 
a voyage was thought cheaper than a journey by 
land. Even that, however, was a mistake. It was 
by Shelley's advice that I acted : and, I believe, if he 
had recommended a balloon, I should have been in- 
clined to try it. " Put your music and your books 
on board a vessel" (it was thus that he wrote to us), 
'Vand you will have no more trouble." The sea was 
to him a pastime ; he fancied us bounding over the 



232 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

waters^ the merrier for being tossed; and thought 
that our will would carry us through anything, as it 
ought to do, seeing that we brought with us nothing 
but good things, — ^books, music, and sociality. It is 
true, he looked to our coming in autunm, and not in 
winter; and so we should have done, but for the 
delays of the captain. We engaged to embark in 
September, and did not set off till November the 
16th. 

I have often thought that a sea-voyage, which is 
generally the dullest thing in the world, both in the 
experiment and the description, might be turned to 
different account on paper, if the narrators, instead 
of imitating the dulness of their predecessors, and 
recording that it was four o'clock p.m. when they 
passed Cape St. Vincent, and that on such-and-such- 
a-day they beheld a porpoise or a Dutchman, would 
look into the interior of the floating-house they in- 
habited, and tell us about the seamen and their 
modes of living ; what adventures they have had, — 
their characters and opinions, — how they eat, drink, 
and sleep, &c ; what they do in fine weather, and 
how they endure the sharpness, the squalidness, and 
inconceivable misery of bad. With a large family 
around me to occupy my mind, I did not think of 
this till too late: but I am sure that this mode of 
treating the subject would be interesting ; and what 
I remember to such purpose, I will set down* 



GUNPOWDEB AND SETTING OFF. 233 

Our vessel was a small brig of a hundred and 
twenty tons burden, a good tight sea-boat, nothing 
more. Its cargo consisted of sugar ; but it took in 
ako a surreptitious stock of gunpowder, to the 
amount of fifty barrels, which was destined for 
Greece. Of this intention we knew nothing, till 
the barrels were sent on board from a place up the 
river ; otherwise, so touchy a companion would have 
been objected to, my wife, who was in a shattered 
state of health, never ceasing to entertain appre- 
hensions on account of it, except when the storms 
that came upon us presented a more obvious peril. 
There were nine men to the crew, including the 
mate. We numbered as many souls, though with 
smaller bodies, in the cabin, which we had entirely to 
ourselves ; as well we might, for it was small enough. 

On the afternoon of the 15th of November 
(1821), we took leave of some friends, who accom- 
panied us on board; and next morning were 
awakened by the motion of the vessel, making its 
way through the shipping in the river. The new 
life in which we thus, as it were, found ourselves . 
enclosed, the clanking of iron, and the cheerly cries « . 
of the seamen, together with the natural vivacity of 
the time of day, presented something animating to our 
feelings ; but while we thus moved off, not without 
encouragement, we felt that the friend whom we 
were going to see was at a great distance, while 



234 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

others were very near, whose hands it would be a 
long while before we should touch again, perhaps 
never. We hastened to get up and busy ourselves ; 
and great as well as small found a novel diversion in 
the spectacle that presented itself from the deck, our 
vessel threading its way through the others with 
; gliding bulk. 

The next day it blew strong from the south-east, 
and even in the river (the navigation of which is not 
easy) we had a foretaste of the alarms and bad 
weather that awaited us at sea. The pilot, whom 
we had taken in over-night (and who was a jovial 
fellow with a whistle like a blackbird, which, in spite 
of the dislike that sailors have to whistling, he was 
always indulging), thought it prudent to remain at 
anchor till two in the afternoon ; and at six, a vessel 
meeting us carried away the jib-boom, and broke in 
one of the bulwarks. My wife, who had had a 
respite from the most alarming part of her illness, 
and whom it was supposed that a sea-voyage, even 
in winter, might benefit, again expectorated blood 
with the fright; and I began to regret that I had 
brought my family into this trouble. — Even in the 
river we had a foretaste of the sea ; and the curse of 
being at sea to a landman is, that you know nothing 
of what is going forward, and can take no active 
part in getting rid of your fears. You cannot ** lend 
a hand*" The business of these small vessels is not 



CAPTAIN AND CABINS OF SMALL SHIPS. 235 

carried on with the orderliness and tranquillity of 
greater ones, or of menH)f.war. The crew are not 
yery wise ; the captain does not know how to make 
them so; the storm roars; the vessel pitches and 
reels; the captain, over your head, stamps and 
swears, and announces all sorts of catastrophes. 
Think of a family hearing all this, and parents in 
alarm for their children I 

On Monday, the 19th, we passed the Nore, and 
proceeded down Channel amidst rains and squalls. 
W^ were now out at sea ; and a rough taste we had 
of it. I had been three times in the Channel before, 
once in hard weather; but I was then a bachelor, 
and had only myself to think of. Let the reader 
picture to his imagination the little back-parlour of 
one of the shops in Fleet-street or the Strand, 
attached or let into a great moving vehicle, and 
tumbling about the waves from side to side, now 
sending all the things that are loose this way, and 
now that. This will give him an idea of a cabin at 
sea, such as we occupied. It had a table fastened 
down in the middle ; places let into the walls on 
each side, one over the other, to hold beds ; a short, 
wide, sloping window, carried off over a bulk, and 
looking out to sea; a bench, or locker, running under 
the bulk from one side of the cabin to the other ; and 
a little fireplace opposite, in which it was impossible 
to keep a fire on account of the wind. The weather. 



236 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

at the same time^ was bitterly cold, as well as wet. 
On one side of the fireplace was the door, and on the 
other a door leading into a petty closet dignified with 
the title of the state-room. In this room we put our 
servant, the captain sleeping in another closet out- 
side. The berths were occupied by the children, and 
my wife and myself lay, as long as we could manage 
to do so, on the floor. Such was the trim, with 
boisterous wet weather, cold days, and long evenings, 
on which we set out on our sea-adventure. 

At six o'clock in the evening of the 19th, we came 
to in the Downs, on a line with Sandown Castle. 
The wind during the night increasing to a gale, the 
vessel pitched and laboured considerably; and the 
whole of the next day it blew a strong gale, with 
hard squalls from the westward. The day after, 
the weather continuing bad, the captain thought 
proper to run for Bamsgate, and took a pilot for 
that purpose. 

Captains of vessels are very unwilling to put into 
harbour, on account of the payment they have to 
make, and the necessity of supporting the crew for 
nothing while they remidn. Many vessels are lost 
on this account ; and a wonder is naturally expressed, 
that men can persist in putting their lives into jeo- 
pardy, in order to save a few pounds. But when we 
come to know what a seaman's life is, we see that 
nothing but the strongest love of gain could induce a 



seamen's notions op a sea-lipe. 237 

man to take to such a mode of existence ; and lie Is 
naturally anxious to save what he looks upon as the 
only tangible proof that he is not the greatest fool 
in existence. His life, he thinks, is in God's keep- 
ing; but his money is in his own. To be sure, a 
captain who has been to sea fifty times, and has got 
rich by it, wiU go again, storms or vows to the con- 
trary notwithstanding ; for he does not know what to 
do with himself on shore ; but unless he had the 
hope of adding to his stock, he would blunder into 
some other way of business, rather than go, as he 
would think, for nothing. Occupation is his real 
necessity, as it is that of other money-getters; but 
the mode of it, without the visible advantage, he 
would assuredly give up. I never met with a seaman 
(and I have put the question to several) who did not 
own to me that he hated his profession. One of 
them, a brave and rough subject, told me that there 
was not a " pickle" of a midshipman, not absolutely a 
fool, who would not confess that he had rather eschew 
a second voyage, if he had but the courage to make 
the avowal. 

I know not what the Deal pilot, whom we took on 
board in the Downs, thought upon this point. If 
ever there was a bold fellow, it was he ; and yet he 
could eye a squall with a grave look. I speak not 
so much from what he had to do on the present 
occasion, though it was a nice business to get us into 



238 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

Bamsgate harbour ; but be had the habit of courage 
in his face, and was altogether one of the most inte- 
resting-looking persons I have seen. 

The Deal boatmen are a well-known race ; reve- 
renced for their matchless intrepidity^ and the lives 
they have saved. Two of them came on board the 
day before, giving opinions of the weather, which the 
captain was loth to take, and at the same time 
insinuating some little contraband notions, which he 
took better. I thought how little these notions 
injured the fine manly cast of their countenances, 
than which nothing could be more self-possessed and 
even innocent. They seemed to understand the first 
principles of the thing, without the necessity of in- 
quiring into it ; their useful and noble lives standing 
them in stead of the pettier ties and sophisms of the 
interested. 

Our pilot was a prince, even of his race. He was 
a taU man, in a kind of frock-coat, thin but powerful, 
with high features, and an expression of countenance 
fit for an Argonaut. When he took the rudder in 
hand, and stood alone, guiding the vessel towards the 
harbour, the crew being all busied at a distance from 
him, and the captain, as usual, at his direction, he 
happened to put himself into an attitude the most 
graceful as well as commanding ; and a new squall 
coming up in the horizon, just as we were going to 
turn in, he gave it a look of lofty suUenness — ^threat. 



CONDOECET'S ** PB0GEES8 OP SOCIETY." 239 

as it were, for threat — which was the most magnifi- 
cent aspect of resolution I ever beheld. Experience 
and valour assumed their rights, and put themselves 
on a par with danger. In we turned, to the admira- 
tion of the spectators who had come down to the pier, 
and to the satisfaction of all on board, except the 
poor captain, who, though it was his own doing, 
seemed, while gallantly congratulating the lady, to 
be eyeing, with sidelong pathos, the money that was 
departing from him. 

We stopped for a change of weather nearly three 
weeks at Bamsgate, where we had visits from more 
than one London friend, to whom I only wish we 
could give a tenth part of the consolation when they 
are in trouble, which they afforded to us. At Bams- 
gate I picked up Condorcet's View of the Progress of 
Society s which I read with a transport of gratitude to 
the author, though it had not entered so deeply into 
the matter as I supposed. But the very power to 
persevere in hopes for mankind, at a time of life when 
individuals are in the habit of reconciling their selfish- 
ness and fatigue, by choosing to think ill of them, is 
a great good to any man, and achieves a great good 
if it act only upon one oth^r person. A few such 
instances of perseverance would alter the world. 

For some days we remained on board, as it was 
hoped that we should be able to set sail again. 
Bamsgate harbour is very shallow ; and though we 



240 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

lay in the deepest part of it, the vessel took to a new 
and ludicrous species of dance, grinding and thump- 
ing upon the chalky ground. The consequence was, 
that the metal pintles of the rudder were all broken, 
and new ones obliged to be made ; which the sailors 
told us was very lucky, as it proved the rudder not 
to be in a good condition, and it might have deserted 
us at sea. 

We lay next a French vessel, smaller than our 
own, the crew of which became amusing subjects of 
remark. They were always whistling, singing, and 
joking. The men shaved themselves elaborately, 
cultivating heroic whiskers; and they strutted up 
and down, when at leisure, with their arms folded, 
and the air of naval officers. A woman or two, with 
kerchiefs and little curls, completed the picture. 
They all seemed very merry and good-humoured. 

At length, tired of waiting on board, we took a 
quiet lodging at the other end of the town, and were 
pleased to find ourselves sitting still, and secure of a 
good rest at night. It is something, after being at 
sea, to find oneself not running the fork in one's eye 
at dinner, or suddenly sliding down the floor to the 
other end of the room. ^ My wife was in a very weak 
state ; but the rest she took was deep and tranquil, 
and I resumed my walks. 

Few of the principal bathing-places have anything 
worth looking at in the neighbourhood, and Ramsgate j 






MEMOBABLE BAB SEASON. 241 

has less than most. Pegwell Bay is eminent for 
shrimps. Close by was Sir William Garrow, and a 
little farther on was Sir William Curtis. The sea is 
a grand sights but it becomes tiresome and melan- 
choly, — a great monotonous idea ; at least one thinks 
so, when not happy. I was destined to see it 
grander, and dislike it more. With great injustice ; 
for all the works of nature are beautiful, and their 
beauty is not to be subjected to our petty vicissitudes. 

On Tuesday the 11th of December, we set forth 
again, in company with nearly a hundred vessels, the 
white sails of which, as they shifted and presented 
themselves in different quarters, made an agreeable 
spectacle, exhibiting a kind of noble minuet. My 
wife was obliged to be carried down to the pier in a 
sedan ; and the taking leave, a second time, of a dear 
friend, rendered our new departure a melancholy one* 
I would have stopped and waited for summer-time, 
had not circumstances rendered it advisable for us to 
persevere ; and my wife herself fuUy agreed with me, 
and even hoped for benefit, as well as a change of 
weather. 

Unfortunately, the promise to that effect lasted us 
but a day. The winds reconunenced the day fol- 
lowing, and there ensued such a continuity and 
vehemence of bad weather as rendered the winter of 
1821 memorable in the shipping annals. It strewed 
the whole of the north-western coast of Europe witU 

VOL. II, B 



242 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

wrecks. Some readers may remember that winter. 
It was the one in which Mount Hecla burst out into 
flame, and Dungeness lighthouse was struck with 
lightning. The mole at Genoa was dilapidated. 
Next year there were between fourteen and fifteen 
thousand sail less upon Lloyd's books ; which, valued 
at an average at £1,500, made a loss of two millions 
of money ; — ^the least of all the losses, considering the 
feelings of survivors. Fifteen himdred sail (colliers) 
were wrecked on the single coast of Jutland. 

Of this turmoil we were destined to have a suffi- 
cient experience ; and I will endeavour to give the 
reader a taste of it, as he sits comfortably in his chair. 
He has seen what sort of cabin we occupied. I will 
now speak of the crew and their mode of living, and 
what sort of trouble we partook in conmion. The 
reader may encounter it himself afterwards if he 
pleases, and it may do him good ; but again I exhort 
him not to think of taking a family with him, if he 
can go by land. 

Our captain, who was also proprietor of the vessel^ 
had been master of a man-of-war ; and he was more 
refined in his manners than captains of small mer- 
chantmen are used to be. He was a clever seaman^ 
or he would not have occupied his former post ; and 
I dare say he conducted us well up and down Chan- 
nel. The crew, when they were exhausted, accused 
him of a wish of keeping us out at sea, to save 



CHABACTEB OF THE CAPTAIN. 243 

charges, — ^perhaps unjustly ; for he became so alarmed 
himself, or was so little able to enter into the alarms 
of others, that he would openly express his fears 
before my wife and children. He was a man of 
connections superior to his caUing ; and the con- 
sciousness of this, together with success in Kfe, and a 
good complexion and set of features which he had 
had in his time, rendered him, though he was getting 
old, a bit of a coxcomb. When he undertook to be 
agreeable, he assumed a cleaner dress, and a fidgety 
sort oi effeminacy, which contrasted ludicrously with 
his old clothes and his doleful roughness during a 
storm. While it was foul weather, he was roaring 
and swearing at the men, like a proper captain of a 
brig, and then grumbling and saying, " Lord bless 
us and save us!'' in the cabin. If a glimpse of 
promise re-appeared, he put on a coat and aspect to 
correspond, paid compliments to the lady, and told 
stories of other fair passengers whom he had conveyed 
charmingly to their destination. He wore powder ; 
but this not being sufficient to conceal the colour of 
his hair, he told us it had turned grey when he was a 
youth, from excessive fright in being left upon a 
rock. This confession made me conclude that he 
WBs a brave man, in spite of his exclamations. I saw 
him among his kindred, and he appeared to be an 
object of interest to some respectable maiden sisters, 
whom he treated kindly, and for whom all the money, 

B 2 



2i4 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT, 

perhaps^ that he scraped together^ was intended. He 
was chary of his " best biscuit/' but fond of children ; 
and he was inclined to take me for a Jonah for not 
reading the Bible, while he made love to the maid-ser- 
vant. Of such incongruities are people made, from 
the great captain to the small ! 

Our mate was a tall handsome young man, with a 
countenance of great refinement for a seaman. He 
was of the humblest origin : yet a certain gentility 
was natural in him, as he proved by a hundred little 
circumstances of attention to the women and chil- 
dren, when consolation was wanted, though he did 
not do it ostentatiously or with melancholy. If a 
child was afraid, he endeavoured to amuse him with 
stories. If the women asked him anxiously how 
things were going on, he gave them a cheerful an- 
swer ; and he contrived to show by his manner, that 
he did not do so in order to make a show of his 
courage at their expense. He was attentive without 
officiousness, and cheerful with quiet. The only 
fault I saw in him, was a tendency to lord it over a 
Genoese boy, an apprentice to the captain, who 
seemed ashamed of being among the crew, and per- 
haps gave himself airs. But a little tyranny will 
creep into the best natures (if not informed enough), 
under the guise of a manly superiority ; as may be 
eeen so often in boys at schooL 

The little Genoese was handsome, and had the 



SPECIMENS OF THE CREW. 245 

fine eyes of the Italians. Seeing he was a foreigner, 
when we first went on board, we asked him whether 
he was not an Italian* He said. No; he was a 
Genoese. It is the Lombards, I believe, that are 
more particularly understood to be Italians, when a 
distinction of this kind is made ; but I never heard 
it afterwards. He complained to me one day, that 
he wanted books and poetry ; and said that the crew 
were a *^ brutta gente^^ (a vulgar set). I afterwards 
met him in Genoa, when he looked as gay as a lark, 
and was dressed like a gentleman. His name was a 
piece of music, — ^Luigi Rivarola. 

There was another foreigner on board, a Swede, 
as rough a subject and northern, as the Genoese was 
full of the ** sweet south." He had the reputation 
of being a capital seaman, which enabled him to 
grumble to better advantage than the others. A 
coat of the mate's hung up to dry in a situation 
not perfectly legal, was not to be seen by him with- 
out a comment. The fellow had an honest face 
withal, but brute and fishy, not unlike a Triton's in 
a picture. He gaped up at a squall, with his bony 
look, and the hair over his eyes, as if he could dive 
out of it in case of necessity* 

Very different was a fat, fair-skinned carpenter, 
with a querulous voice, who complained openly on 
.all occasions, and in private was very earnest with 
the passengers to ask the captain to put into porta 



246 . LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

And very different again from him was a jovial 
straightforward seaman^ a genuine Jack Tar, with 
a snub nose and an under lip thrust out, such as we 
see in caricatures. He rolled about with the vessel, 
as if his feet had suckers ; and he had an oath and a 
jest every morning for the bad weather. He said 
he would have been " d — d " before he had come to 
sea this time, if he had known what sort of weather 
it was to be ; but it was not so bad for him as for 
the gentlefolks with their children. 

The crew occupied a little cabin at the other end 
of the vessel, into which they were tucked in their 
respective cribs, like so many herrings. The weather 
was so bad, that a portion of them, sometimes all^ 
were up at night, as well as the men on watch. The 
business of the watch is to see that all is safe, and to 
look out for vessels ahead. He is very apt to go to 
sleep, and is sometimes waked with a pail of water 
chucked over him. The tendency to sleep is very 
natural, and the sleep in fine weather delicious. 
Shakspeare may well introduce a sailor boy sleeping 
on the top-mast, and enjoying a luxury that kings 
might envy. But there is no doubt that the luxury 
of the watcher is often the destruction of the vesseL 
The captains themselves, glad to get to rest, are 
careless. When we read of vessels run down at sea, 
we are sure to find it owing to negligence. This 
^as the case with regard to a steam-vessel, the 



l>ISCOMrORTS AT SEA. 247 

Comety which excited great interest at this time. A 
passenger^ anxious and kept awake^ is surprised to 
see the eagerness with which every seaman^ let the 
weather be what it may, goes t6 bed when it comes 
to his turn. Safety, if they can have it ; but sleep 
at all events. This seems to be their motto. J£ 
they are to be drowned, they would rather have the 
two beds together, the watery and the worsted. 
Dry is too often a term inapplicable to the latter. 
In our vessel, night after night, the wet penetrated 
into the seamen's berths ; and the poor fellows, their 
limbs stiff and aching with cold, and their hands 
blistered with toil, had to get into beds, as wretched 
as if a pail of water had been thrown over them. 

Such were the lives of our crew from the 12th till 
the 22nd of December, during which time we were 
beaten up and down Channel, twice touching the 
Atlantic, and driven back again like a hunted ox. 
One of the gales lasted, without intermission, fifty- 
six hours ; blowing all the while as if it would ** split 
its cheeks.'* The oldest seaman on board had never 
seen rougher weather in Europe. In some parts of 
the world, both east and west, there is weather of 
sudden and more outrageous violence ; but none of 
the crew had experienced tempests of longer dura^ 
tion, or more violent for the dimate. 

The worst of being at sea in weather like this, 
next to your inability to do anything, is the multi^ 



248 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

tude of petty discomforts with which you are sur- 
rounded. You can retreat into no comfort, great or 
small. Your feet are cold ; you can take no exer- 
cise on account of the motion of the vessel ; and a 
fire will not keep in. You cannot sit in one posture. 
You lie down, because you are sick ; or if others are 
more sick, you must keep your legs as well as you can, 
to help them. At meals, the plates and dishes slide 
away, now to this side, now that ; making you laugh, 
it is true ; but you laugh more out of spleen than 
merriment. Twenty to one you are obliged to keep 
your beds, and chuck the cold meat to one another; 
or the oldest and strongest does it for the rest, des- 
perately remaining at table, and performing all the 
slides, manoeuvres, and sudden rushes, which the fan- 
tastic violence of the cabin's movements has taught 
him. Tea (which, for the refreshment it affords in 
toil and privation, may be called the traveUer's wine) 
is taken as desperately as may be, provided you can 
get boiling water ; the cook making his appearance, 
when he can, with his feet asunder, clinging to the 
floor, and swaying to and fro with the kettle. 

By the way, I have not mentioned our cook ; he 
was a Mulatto, a merry knave, constantly drunk. 
But the habit of drinking, added to a quiet and sly 
habit of uttering his words, had made it easy to him 
to pretend sobriety when he was most intoxicated ; 
and I believe he deceived the whole of the people on 



A DEUNKEN COOK. 249 

board; except ourselves. The captain took him for 
a special good fellow. He felt particularly grateful 
for his refusals of a glass of rum ; the secret of which 
waS; that the man could get at the rum whenever he 
liked, and was never without a glass of it in his head. 
He stood behind you at meals, kneading the floor 
with his feet, as the vessel rolled; drinking in all 
the jokes, or would-be jokes, that were uttered ; and 
laughing like a goblin. The captain, who had eyes 
for nothing but what was right before him, seldom 
noticed his merry devil ; but if you caught his eye, 
there he was, shaking his shoulders without a word, 
while his twinkling eyes seemed to run over with 
rum and glee. 

This fellow, who swore horrid oaths in a tone of 
meekness, used to add to my wife's horrors by de- 
scending, drunk as he was, with a lighted candle 
into the ** Lazaret," which was a hollow under the 
cabin, opening with a trap-door, and containing pro- 
visions and a portion of the gunpowder. The por- 
tion was small, but sufficient, she thought, with the 
assistance of his candle, to blow us up. Fears for 
her children occupied her mind from morning till 
night, when she sank into an imeasy sleep. While 
she was going to sleep I read, and did not close my 
eyes till towards morning, thinking (with a wife by 
my side, and seven children around me) what I 
should do in case of the worst. My imagination. 



250 LIFE OF LEIGH HUKT. 

naturally tenacious^ and exasperated by ill health, 
clung, not to every relief, but to every shape of ill 
that I could fancy. I was tormented with the con- 
sciousness of being unable to divide myself into as 
many pieces as I had persons requiring assistance ; 
and must not scruple to own that I suffered a con- 
stant dread, which appeared to me very unbecoming 
a man of spirit. However, I expressed no sense of 
it to anybody. I did my best to do my duty and 
keep up the spirits of those about me ; and your 
nervousness being a great dealer in your joke fan- 
tastic, I succeeded apparently with all, and certainly 
with the children. 

The most uncomfortable thing in the vessel was the 
constant wet. Below it penetrated, and on deck you 
could not appear with dry shoes but they were speedily 
drenched. Mops being constantly in use at sea (for 
seamen are very clean in that respect, and keep their 
vessels as nice as a pet infant), the sense of wet was 
always kept up, whether in wetting or drying ; and 
the vessel, tumbling about, looked like a wash-house 
in a fit. 

We had a goat on board, a present from a kind 
friend, anxious that we should breakfast as at home. 
The storms frightened away its milk, and Lord 
Byron's dog afterwards bit off its ear. But the 
ducks had the worst of it. These were truly a 
sight to make a man hypochondriacal They were 



CALAMITIES OF DUCKK 251 

kept in miserable narrow coops, over which the sea 
constantly breaking, the poor wretches were drenched 
and beaten to death. Every morning, when I came 
upon deck, some more were killed, or had their legs 
and wings broken. The captain grieved for the loss 
of his ducks, and once went so far as to add to 
the number of his losses by putting one of them 
out of its misery ; but nobody seemed to pity them 
otherwise. 

This was not inhumanity, but want of thought. 
The idea of pitying live-stock when they suffer, 
enters with as much difficulty into a head uneducated 
to that purpose, as the idea of pitying a diminished 
piece of beef or a stolen pig. 

I took care not to inform the children how much 
the creatures suffered. My family, with the ex- 
ception of the eldest boy, who was of an age to 
acquire experience, always remained below ; and the 
children, not aware of any danger (for I took care to 
qualify what the captain said, and they implicitly 
believed me), were as gay, as confinement and un- 
easy beds would allow them to be. With the poor 
ducks I made them very merry one night, by telling 
them to listen when the next sea broke over us, and 
they would hear an acquaintance of theirs laughing. 
The noise they made with their quacking, when they 
gathered breath after the suffocation of the salt water, 
was exactly like what I said : the children listened. 



252 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

and at every fresh agony there was a shout. Being 
alarmed one night by the captain's open expression 
of his apprehension^ I prepared the children for the 
worst that might happen^ by telling them that the 
sea sometimes broke into a cabin, and then there was 
a dip over head and ears for the passengers, after 
which they laughed and made merry. The only 
time I expressed apprehension to anybody was to 
the mate one night, when we were wearing ship, off 
the Scilly rocks, and . everybody was in a state of 
anxiety. I asked him, in case of the worst, to throw 
open the lid of the cabin-stairs, that the sea might 
pour in upon us as fast as possible. He begged me 
not to have any sad thoughts, for he said I should 
give them to him, and he had none at present. At 
the same time, he turned and severely rebuked the 
carpenter, who was looking doleful at the helm, for 
putting notions into the heads of the passengers. 
The captain was imfortunately out of hearing. 

I did wrong at that time 'not to "feed better," as 
the phrase is. My temperance was a little ultra- 
theoretical and excessive ; and the mate and I were 
the only men on board who drank no spirits. Per- 
haps there were not many men out in those dreadful 
nights in the Channel, who could say as much. The 
mate, as he afterwards let me Ipiow, felt the charge 
upon him too great to venture upon an artificial state 
of courage ; and I feared that what courage was lefi 



HYPOCHONDRIA AND MAJESTICAL GLOOMS. 253 

me, might be bewildered The consequence was, 
that from previous illness and constant excitation, 
my fancy was sickened into a kind of hypochon- 
driacal investment and shaping of things about me. 
A little more, and I might have imagined the fan- 
tastic shapes which the action of the sea is constantly 
interweaving out of the foam at the vessel's side, 
to be sea-snakes, or more frightful hieroglyphics. 
The white clothes that hung up on pegs in the 
cabin, took, in the gloomy light from above, an 
aspect like things of meaning ; and the winds and 
rain together, as they ran blind and howling along 
by the vessel's side, when I was on deck, appeared 
like frantic spirits of the air, chasing and shrieking 
after one another, and tearing each other by the hair 
of their heads. " The grandeur of the glooms" on 
the Atlantic was majestic indeed : the healthiest eye 
would have seen them with awe. The sun rose in 
the morning, at once fiery and sicklied over ; a Uvid 
gleam played on the water, like the reflection of 
lead ; then the storms would recommence ; and dur- 
ing partial clearings o^ the clouds and fogs appeared 
standing in the sky, moulded into gigantic shapes, 
like antediluvian wonders, or visitants from the 
zodiac; mammoths, vaster than have yet been 
thought of; the first ungainly aud stupendous ideas 
of bodies and legs, looking out upon an unfinished 
world These fancies were ennobling, from their 



254 LITE OF LEIGH HUKT. 

magnitude. The pain that was mixed with some of 
the others^ I might have displaced by a fillip of the 
blood. 

Two days after we left Ramssate. the wind blow- 
i^ ™.4 ftoM 1.. ^aZ, w, -e. ^» 

close-reefed topsails; but on its veering to west- 
ward, the captain was induced to persevere, in hopes 
that by coming round to the north-west, it would 
enable *him to clear the Channel The ship laboured 
very much, the sea breaking over her ; and the pump 
was constantly going. 

The next day, the 14th, we shipped a great deal 
of water, the pump going as before. The fore-top- 
sail and foresail were taken in; the storm staysail 
set ; and the captain said we were ^^ in the hands of 
God." We now wore ship to southward. 

On the 15th, the weather was a little moderated^ 
with fresh gales and cloudy. The captain told us 
to-day how his hair turned white in a shipwreck ; 
and the mate entertained us with an account of the 
extraordinary escape of himself and some others from 
an American pirate, who seized their vessel^ plun- 
dered and made it a wreck, and confined them under 
the hatches, in the hope of their going down with it. 
They escaped in a rag of a boat, and were taken up 
by a Greek vessel, which treated them with the 
greatest humanity. The pirate was afterwards taken 
and. hung at Malta, with five of his men. . This 



DULLNESS AND SUPERSTITION OF SAILORS, 255 

story, being tragical without being tempestuous, and 
terminating happily for our friend, was very wel- 
come, and occupied us agreeably. I tried to elicit 
some ghost stories of vessels, but could hear of 
nothing but the Flying Dutchman; nor did I suc- 
ceed better on another occasion. This dearth of 
supernatural adventure is remarkable, considering 
the superstition of sailors. But their wits are none 
of the liveliest; the sea blunts while it tnystifies; 
and the sailor's imagination, driven in, like his body, 
to the vessel he inhabits, admits only the petty won- 
ders that come directly about him in the shape of 
storm-announcing fishes and birds. His superstition 
is that of a blunted and not of an awakened igno- 
rance. Sailors had rather sleep than see visions. 

On the 16th, the storm was alive again, with 
strong gales and heavy squalls. We set the fore 
storm-staysail anew, and at night the jolly-boat was 
torn from the stem. 

The afternoon of the 17th brought us the gale 
that lasted fifty-six hours, ** one of the most tre- 
mendous," the captain said, *' that he had ever wit- 
nessed." All the sails were taken in, except the 
close-reefed topsail and one of the trysails. At 
night, the wind being at south-west, and SciUy 
about fifty miles north by east, the trysail sheet was 
carried away, and the boom and sail had a narrow 
escape. We were now continually wearing ship.. 



256 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

The boom was unshipped^ as it was ; and it was a 
melancholy sight to see it lying next morning, with 
the sail about it, like a woimded servant who had 
been fighting. The morning was occupied in getting 
it to rights. At night we had hard squalls with 
Hghtning. 

We lay-to under main-topsail until the next morn- 
ing, the 19th, when at ten o'clock we were enabled 
to set the reefed foresail, and the captain prepared to 
run for Falmouth ; but finding he could not get in 
till night, we hauled to the wind, and at three in the 
afternoon, wore ship to south-westward. It was 
then blowing heavily; and the sea, breaking over 
the vessel, constantly took with it a part of the 
bulwark. I believe we had long ceased to have 
a duck alive. The poor goat had contrived to find 
itself a comer in the long-boat, and lay frightened 
and shivering under a piece of canvass. I afterwards 
took it down in the cabin to share our lodging ; but 
not having a berth to give it, it passed a sorry time, 
tied up and slipping about the floor. At night we 
had lightning again, with hard gales, the wind being 
west and north-west, and threatening to drive us on 
the French coast. It was a grand thing, through the 
black and turbid atmosphere, to see the great fiery 
eye of the lighthouse at the Lizard Point : it looked 
like a good genius with a ferocious aspect. Ancient 
mythology would have made dragons of these noble 



A GOAT AND BISCUIT. 257 

structures, — dragons with giant glare, warning the 
seaman off the coast. 

The captain could not get into Falmouth : so he 
wore ship, and stood to the westward with fresh 
hopes, the wind having veered a little to the north ; 
but, after having run above fifty miles to the south 
and west, the wind veered again in our teeth, and at 
two o'clock on the 20th, we were reduced to a close- 
reefed main-topsail, which, being new, fortunately 
held, the wind blowing so hard that it could not be 
taken in without the greatest risk of losing it. The 
sea was very heavy, and the rage of the gale tremen- 
dous, accompanied with lightning. The children on 
these occasions slept, unconscious of their danger. 
My wife slept, too, from exhaustion. I remember, 
as I lay awake that night, looking about to see what 
help I could get from imagination, to furnish a 
moment's respite from the anxieties that beset me, I 
cast my eyes on the poor goat ; and recollecting how 
she devoured some choice biscuit I gave her one day, 
I got up, and going to the cupboard took out as 
much as I could find, and occupied myself in seeing 
her eat. She munched the fine white biscuit out of 
my hand, with equal appetite and comfort; and I 
thought of a saying of Sir Philip Sidney's, that we 
are never perfectly miserable when we can do a 
good-natured action. 

I will not dwell upon the thoughts that used to 
VOL. II. S 



258 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

pass through my mind respecting my wife and chil* 
dren. Many times, especially when a -little boy of 
mine used to weep in a manner equally sorrowful 
and good-temperedy I thought of Prospero and his 
infant Miranda in the boat^ — "me and thy crying 
self;" and many times of a similar divine fragment 
of Simonides. It seemed as if I had no right to 
bring so many little creatures into such jeopardy, 
with peril to their lives and to all future enjoyment ; 
but sorrow and trouble suggested other reflections 
too : — consolations, which even to be consoled with 
is calamity. However, I will not recall those feel- 
ings any more. Next to tragical thoughts like these, 
one of the modes of tormenting oneself at sea, is to 
raise those pleasant pictures of contrast, dry and 
firm-footed, which our friends are enjoying in their 
warm rooms and radiant security at home. I used to 
think of them one after the other, or of several of 
them together, reading, chatting, and laughing, play- 
ing music, or complaining that they wanted a little 
movement and must dance; then retiring to easy 
beds amidst happy families ; and perhaps, as the wind 
howled, thinking of us. Perhaps, too, they thought 
of us sometimes in the midst of their merriment, and 
longed for us to share it with them. That they did 
so, is certain ; but, on the other hand, what would 
we not have given to be sure of the instant at which 
they were making these reflections; and how im- 



DAKGEB OP BEING RUN DOWN, 259 

possible was it to attain to this^ or to any other diy- 
ground satisfaction I Sometimes I could Mt^elp 
smiling to think how Munden would have exclaimed^ 
in the character of Croaker, " We shall all be blown 
up!" The gunpowder I seldom thought of; but it 
seemed to give mj feet a sting sometimes, as I 
remembered it in walking the deck. The demand 
for dry land was considerable. That is the point 
with landsmen at sea; — something unwet, uncon- 
fined, but, above all, firm, and that enables you to 
take your own steps, physical and moral Panurge 
has it in Kabelais. 

But I must put an end to this mirth ; for ** a large 
vessel is coming right down upon us; — lights — 
lights I" This was the cry at eleven o'clock at night, 
on the 21st December, the gale being tremendous, 
and the sea to match. Lanthoms were handed up 
&om the cabin, and, one after the other, put out. 
The captain thought it was owing to the weather; 
but it was the drunken steward, who jolted them out 
as he took them up the ladder. We furnished more, 
and contrived to see them kept in ; and the captain 
afterwards told me that we had saved his vesseL 
The ship, discerning us just in time, passed ahead, 
looking very huge and terrible. Next morning, we 
saw her about two miles on our lee-bow, lying-to 
under trysails. It was an Indiaman. There was 
another vessel, a smaller, near us in the night. I 

s 2 



^' 1^ 1/ f o- 1 i:raH hunt, 

••.••!-1 '. ill. Iji'j.r 'K i: • ; ''•^•r^ '.TrMfortable, wIth 
its spw '. U'^^ ^> . ..; '. J. . • ihe captain 
said we were ! lU; •{) u li . • our own sea- 

boat; which tumea oui m» ^. to- :.ae, if this was 
the same Indiaman^ as somt, '.' • ; it it^ which was 
lost the night following off the coast of Devonshire. 
The crew said, that in one of the pauses of the wind 
they heard a vessel go down. We were at that time 
near land. While drinking tea, the keel of our ship 
grated against something, perhaps a shoal. The 
captain afterwards very properly made light of it ; 
but at the time, being in the act of raising a cup to 
his mouth, I remember he turned very grave, and, 
getting up, went upon deck. 

Next day, the 22nd, we ran for Dartmouth, and 
succeeding this time, found ourselves, at twelve 
o'clock at noon, in the middle of Dartmouth harbour. — 

" Magno telluris amore 
Egressi, optata potiuntur Troes arena." 

'* The Trojans, worn with toils, and spent with woes, 
Leap on the welcome land, and seek their wish*d repose/* 

Dryden had never been at sea, or he would not have 
translated the passage in that manner. Virgil knew 
better; and besides, he had the proper ancient 
hydrophobia to endear his fancy to the dry ground. 
He says, that the Trojans had got an absolute 
affection for terra firma^ and that they now enjoyed 
what they had longed for. Virgil, it must be con- 



ANCIENT poets' DISLIKE OF THE SEA. 261 

fessed, talks very tenderly of the sea for an epic 
poet. Homer grapples with it in a different style. 
The Greek would hardly have recognised his old 
acquaintance JEneas in that pious and frightened 
personage, who would be designated, I fear, by a 
modem sailor, a psalm-singing milksop. But Homer, 
who was a traveller, is the only poet among the 
ancients who speaks of the sea in a modern spirit. 
He talks of brushing the waves merrily ; and likens 
them, when they are dark, to his Chian wine. But 
Hesiod, though he relates with a modest grandeur that 
he had once been to sea, as far as from Aulis to Chalcis, 
is shocked at the idea of anybody venturing upon the 
water except when the air is delicate and the water 
harmless. A spring voyage distresses him, and a 
winter he holds to be senseless. Moschus confesses, 
that the very sight of the ocean makes him retreat 
into the woods; the only water he loves being a 
fountain to listen to, as he lies on the grass. Virgil 
took a trip to Athens, during which he may be 
supposed to have undergone all the horrors which he 
holds to be no disgrace to his hero. Horace's distress 
at his friend's journey, and amazement at the hard- 
hearted wretch who first ventured to look upon the 
sea on ship-board, are well known. A Hindoo could 
not have a greater dread of the ocean. Poor Ovid, 
on his way to the place of his exile, wonders how he 
can write a line. These were delicate gentlemen at 



262 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

the court of Augustus ; and the ancients^ it may be 
saidj had very small and bad vessels^ and no compass. 
But their moral courage appears to have been as 
poor in this matter as their physical. Nothing could 
have given a Boman a more exalted idea of Cassar's 
courage, than his famous speech to the pilot: — ** You 
carry Cassar and his fortunes ! " 

The poets who take another road to glory, and 
think no part of humanity alien from them, spoke 
out in a different manner. Their office being to feel 
with all, and their nature disposing them to it, they 
seem to think themselves privileged to be bold or 
timid, according to circumstances; and doubtless 
they are so, imagination being the moving cause in 
both instances. They perceive, also, that the boldest 
of men are timid under circumstances in which they 
have no experience; and this helps the agreeable 
insolence of their candour. Rochester said, that 
every man would confess himself a coward, if he had 
but courage enough to do so : — a saying worthy of 
an ingenious debauchee, and as false with respect to 
individuals, as it is, perhaps, true with regard to the 
circumstances under which any one may find him- 
self. The same person who shall turn pale in a 
storm at sea, shall know not what it is to fear the 
face of man ; and the most fearless of sailors shall 
turn pale (as I have seen them do) even in storms of 
an unusual description. I have related a scuffle with 



MODERN poets' DITTO, 263 

a party of fishermen on the Thames, when in the 
height of their rage they were checked and made 
civil by the mention of the word law. Rochester 
talked like the shameless coward that he had made 
himself; but even Sir Philip Sidney, the flower of 
chivalry, who would have gone through any danger 
out of principle (which, together with the manly 
habits that keep a man brave, is the true courage), 
does not scruple to speak, with a certain dread, of 
ships and their strange lodgings. 

^^ Certainly," says he, in his Arcadia (Book II,), 
*^ there is no danger carries with it more horror, than 
that which grows in those floating kingdoms. For 
that dwelling-place is unnatural to mankind; and 
then the terribleness of the continual motion, the 
desolation of the being far from comfort, the eye and 
the ear having ugly images ever before them, doth 
stiU vex the mind, even when it is best armed 
against it." 

Ariosto, a soldier as well as poet, who had fought 
bravely in the wars, candidly confesses that he is 
for taking no sea voyages, but is content to explore 
the earth with Ptolemy, and travel in a map. This, 
he thinks, is better than putting up prayers in a 
storm. (Satire 3. Chi vuol andar intorno, &c.) 
But the most amusing piece of candour on this point 
is that of Bemi, in his Orlando InnamoratOy one of 
the models of the Don Juan style. Bemi was a 



264 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT, 

good fellow for a rake ; and bold enough^ though a 
courtier^ to refuse aiding a wicked master in his ini- 
quities. He was also stout of body, and a great 
admirer of achievements in others^ which he dwells 
upon with a masculine relish. But the sea he cannot 
abide. He probably got a taste of it in the Adriatic, 
when he was at Venice. He is a fine describer of a 
storm, and puts a hero of his at the top of one in a 
very elevated and potent manner: (See the descrip- 
tion of Kodomonte, at the beginning of one of his 
cantos.) But in his own person, he disclaims all 
partnership with such exaltations ; and earnestly 
exhorts the reader, on the faith of his experience, 
not to think of quitting dry land for an instant. 

" Se yi poteste un uomo immaginare, 
H qual non sappia quel che sia paura ; 
E se Yolete un bel modo trovare 
Da spaventar ogni anima sicura ; 
Quando e fortuna, mettetel* in mare. 
Se non lo teme, se non se ne cura, 
Coloi per pazzo abbiate, e non ardilo, 
Perch* h diviso da la morte un dito. 

" E un* orribil cosa il mar crocciato : 

E meglio udirlo, che fame la prova. 

Greda ciascun a chi dentro y* h stato ; 

E per provar, di terra non si mova.** 

Canto 64, st. 4. 

Reader, if you suppose that there can be, 
In nature, one that 's ignorant of fear ; 

And if you *d show the man, as prettily 
As possibly, how people can feel queer, ^ 



I 

f 

DARTMOUTH. 265 

When there 's a tempest, clap him in the sea. 

If he 's not frightened, if he doesn't care, 
Count him a stupid idiot, and not hrave. 
Thus with a straw hetwixt him and the grave. 

A sea in torment is a dreadful thing : 
Much better lie and listen to, than try it. 

Trust one who knows its desperate pmnmelling ; 
And while on Lrrafirma^ pray stick by it. 

Full of Signer Bemi's experience, and having, in 
the shape of our children, seven more reasons than 
he had to avail ourselves of it, we here bade adieu to 
our winter voyage, and resolved to put forth again 
in a better season. It was a very expensive change 
of purpose, and cost us more trouble than I can ex- 
press; but I had no choice, seeing my wife was so 
ilL A few days afterwards, she was obliged to have 
forty ounces of blood taken from her, to save her 
life. 

Dartmouth is a pretty, forlorn place, deserted of 
its importance. Chaucer's ** Schippmann" was bom 
there, and it still produces excellent seamen; but, 
instead of its former dignity as a port, it looks like a 
petty town deserted of its neighbourhood, and left to 
grow wild and solitary. The beautiful vegetation 
immediately about it, added to the bare hills in the 
background, completes this look of forlomness, and 
produces an effect like that of the grass growing in 
the streets of a metropolis. The harbour is land- 
locked with hills and wood, and a bit of an old castle 



266 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

at the entrance; forming a combination very pic- 
turesque. Among the old families remaining in that 
quarter, the Prideaux, relations of the ecclesiastical 
historian, live in this town ; and going up a solitary- 
street on the hill-side, I saw on a door the name of 
Wolcot, a memorandum of a different sort Peter 
Pindar's family, like the divine's, are from ComwalL 

We left Dartmouth, where no ships were in the 
habit of sailing, for Italy, and went to Plymouth ; 
intending to set off again with the beginning of 
spring, in a vessel bound for Genoa. But the mate 
of it, who, I believe, grudged us the room we should 
deprive him of, contrived to teU my wife a number 
of dismal stories, both of the ship and its captain, who 
was an unlucky fellow that seemed marked by for- 
tune. Misery had also made him a Calvinist, — ^the 
most miserable of all ways of getting comfort ; and 
this was no additional recommendation. To say the 
truth, having a pique against my fears on the former 
occasion, I was more bent on allowing myself to have 
none on the present; otherwise, I should not have 
thought of putting forth again till the fine weather 
was complete. But the reasons that prevailed before, 
had now become still more imperative ; my wife being 
confined to her bed, and undergoing repeated bleed- 
ings : so, till summer we waited. 

Plymouth is a proper commercial town, unpic- 
turesque in itself, with an overgrown suburb, or dock. 



HOUNT-EDGEGT7MBE. 267 

which has become a town distmct, and otiier suburbs 
carrying other towns along the coast. But the 
country up the river is beautiful ; and Mount-Edge- 
cumbe is at hand, with its enchanted island, like a 
piece of old poetry by the side of new money-getting. 
Lord Lyttleton, in some pretty verses, has intro- 
duced the gods, with Neptune at their head, and the 
nymphs of land and sea, contesting for the proprie- 
torship of it ; — a dispute which Jupiter settles by 
saying, that he made Mount-Edgecumbe for them 
alL But the best compliment paid it was by the 
Duke of Medina Sidonia, admiral of the Spanish 
Armada, who, according to Fuller, marked it out 
from the sea as his portion of the booty. " But,'* 
says Fuller, ^^ he had catched a great cold, had he 
had no other clothes to wear than those which were 
to be made of a skin of a bear not killed." In the 
neighbourhood is a seat of the Carews, the family of 
the historian of Cornwall, and kinsmen of the poet. 
Near it, on the other side of the river, was the seat 
of the Killigrews ; another family which became cele- 
brated in the annals of wit and poetry.* The tops 
of the two mansions looked at one another over the 
trees. In the grounds of the former is a bowling- 
green, the scene of a once fashionable amusement, 
now grown out of use; which is a pity. Fashion 

* fForthies of England, vol. i. p. 208. Edit. 1811. 



268 LIFE or LEIGH HUNT. 

cannot too much identify itself with what is healthy ; 
nor has England been ** merry England" since late 
hours and pallid faces came into vogue. But our 
sedentary thoughts^ it is to be hoped, will assist their 
own remedy, and in the end leave us better off than 
before. 

The sea upon the whole had done me good, and I 
found myself able to write again, though by driblets. 
We lived very quietly at Stone -house, opposite 
Mount-Edgecumbe, nursing our hopes for a new 
voyage, and expecting one of a very different com- 
plexion, in sailing towards an Italian summer. My 
wife kept her bed almost the whole time, and lost a 
great deal of blood ; but the repose, together with 
the sea-air, was of service to her, and enabled her to 
receive benefit on resuming our journey. 

Thus quietly we lived, and thus should have con- 
tinued, agreeably to both of our inclinations; but 
some friends of the Examiner heard of our being in 
the neighbourhood, and the privatest of all public 
men (if I may be ranked among the number) found 
himself complimented by his readers, face to face, 
and presented with a silver cup. I then had a taste 
of the Plymouth hospitality, and found it friendly 
and cordial to the last degree, as if the seaman's 
atmosphere gave a new spirit to the love of books 
and liberty. Nor, as the poet would say, was music 
wanting; nor fair faces, the crown of welcome. 



MEN OF DEVONSHIRE. 269 

Besides the landscapes in the neighbourhood, I had 
the pleasure of seeing some beautiful ones in the 
painting-room of Mr. Rogers, a very clever artist 
and intelligent man, who has travelled, and can think 
for himself. But my great Examiner friend, who 
afterwards became a personal one, was Mr. Hine, 
subsequently master of an academy near the metro- 
polis, and the most attentive and energetic person of 
his profession that I ever met with. TVIy principal 
visitors, indeed, at Plymouth consisted of schoolmas- 
ters ; — one of those signs of the times, which has not 
been so iU regarded since the accession of a lettered 
and liberal minister to the government of this coim- 
try, as they were under the supercilious ignorance, 
and (to say the truth) well-founded alarm of some of 
his predecessors. 

The Devonshire people, as far as I had experience 
of them, were pleasant and good-humoured. Queen 
Elizabeth said of their gentry, that they were *^ all 
bom courtiers with ^ becoming confidence." I know 
not how that may be, though she had a good speci- 
men in Sir Walter Kaleigh. But the private history 
of modem times might exhibit instances of natives of 
Devonshire winning their way into regard and power 
by the force of a well-constituted mixture of sweet 
and strong ; and it is curious that the milder climate 
of that part of England should have produced more 
painters, perhaps, of a superior kind, than any other 



270 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

two counties can show. Drake^ Jewd, Hooker^ and 
old Fortescue, were also Devonshire-men ; William 
Browne, the most genuine of Spenser's disciples; 
and Gay, the enjoying and the good-hearted, the 
natural man in the midst of the sophisticate. 

We left Plymouth on the 13th of May 1822, 
accompanied by some of our new friends who would 
see us on board ; and set sail in a fresh vessel, on our 
new summer voyage, a very different one from the 
last. Short acquaintances sometimes cram as much 
into their intercourse, as to take the footing of loug 
ones ; and our parting was not without pain. An- 
other shadow was cast on the female countenances by 
the observation of our boatman, who, though an old 
sailor who ought to have known better, bade us 
remark how heavily laden our ship was, and how 
deep she lay in the water: so Httle can ignorance 
afford to miss an opportunity of being important. 

Our new captain, and, I believe, all his crew, were 
Welsh, with the exception of one sailor, an unfor- 
tunate Scotchman, who seemed pitched among them 
to have his nationality put to the torture. Jokes 
were unceasingly cracked on the length of his person, 
the oddity of his dialect, and the uncouth manner in 
which he stood at the helm. It was a new thing to 
hear Welshmen cutting up the barbarism of the 
"Modem Athens"; but they had the advantage of 
the poor feUow in wit, and he took it with a sort of 



A ROUGH SEA-POET. 271 

sulky patience, that showed he was not destitute of 
one part of the wisdom of his countrymen. To have 
made a noise would have been to bring down new 
shouts of laughter ; so he pocketed the affronts as 
well as he might, and I could not help fancying that 
his earnings lay in the same place more securely 
than most of those about him. The captain was 
choleric and brusqtiey a temperament which was none 
the better for an inclination to plethora ; but his en* 
thusiasm in behalf of his brother tars, and the battles 
they had fought, was as robust as his frame ; and he 
surprised us with writing verses on the strength of 
it. Very good heart and impart verses they were 
too, and would cut as good a figure as any in the 
old magazines. While he read them, he roUed the 
r's in the most rugged style, and looked as if he 
coidd have run them down the throats of the enemy. 
The objects of his eulogy he called **our gallant 
herroes,^ 

We took leave of Plymouth with a fine wind at 
north-east; and next day, on the confines of the 
Channel, spoke the Two Sisters of Guernsey, from 
Kio Janeiro. On a long voyage, ships lose their 
longitude ; and our information enabled the vessel 
to enter the Channel with security. Ships approach- 
ing and parting from one another present a fine 
spectacle, shifting in the light, and almost looking 
conscious of the grace of their movements. 



272. LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

Sickness here began to prevail again among us, 
with all but myself, who am never sea-sick. I men- 
tion it in order to notice a pleasant piece of thanks 
which I received from my eldest boy, who, having 
suflfered dreadftiUy in the former voyage, was grate- 
ful for my not having allowed him to eat butter in 
the interval. I know not whether my paternity is 
leading me here into too trifling a matter; but I 
mention the circumstance, because there may be 
intelligent children among my readers, with whom it 
may turn to account. 

We were now on the high Atlantic, with fresh 
health and hopes, and the prospect of an easy voyage 
before us. Next night, the 15th, we saw, for the 
first time, two grampuses, who interested us ex- 
tremely with their unwieldy gambols. They were 
very large, — ^in fact, a small kind of whale ; but they 
played about the vessel like kittens, dashing round, 
and even under it, as if in scorn of its progress. The 
swiftness of fish is inconceivable. The smallest of 
them must be enormously strong : the largest are as 
gay as the least. One of these grampuses fairly 
sprang out of the water, bolt upright. 

The same day, we were becalmed in the Bay of 
Biscay; — a pleasant surprise. A calm in the Bay 
6f Biscay, after what we had read and heard of it, 
sounded to us like repose in a boiling cauldron. But 
a calm, after aU, is not repose : it is a very unresting 



CALMS AND FINE WEATHEB. 273 

and unpleasant things the ship taking a great gawky- 
motion from side to side, as if playing the buflFoon ; 
and the sea heaving in huge oily-looking fields, like 
a carpet lifted. Sometimes it appears to be striped 
into great ribbons ; but the sense of it is always 
more or less unpleasant, and to impatient seamen is 
torture. 

The next day we were still becalmed. A small 
shark played aU day long about the vessel, but was 
shy of the bait. The sea was swelling, and foul with 
putrid substances, which made us think what it would 
be if a calm continued a montL Coleridge has 
touched upon that matter, with the hand of a master, 
in his Ancient Mariner. (Here are three words in 
one sentence beginning with m and ending with r, 
to the great regret of fingers that cannot always 
stop to make corrections. But the compliment to 
Coleridge shall be the greater, since it is at my 
own expense.) During a calm, the seamen, that 
they may not be idle, are employed in painting the 
vessel : — an operation that does not look well, amidst 
the surrounding aspect of sickness and faintness. The 
favourite colours are black and yellow; I believe, 
because they are the least expensive. The com- 
bination is certainly the most ugly. 

On the 17th, we had a fine breeze at north-east. 
There is great enjoyment in a beautiful day at sea. 
You quit all the discomforts of your situation for the 

VOL. II. T 



274 LIF£ OF LEIGH HUNT. 

comforts ; interchange congratulations with the sea- 
men, who are all in good humour ; seat yourself at 
ease on the deck, enjoy the motion, the getting on, 
the healthiness of the air; watch idly for new sights ; 
read a little, or chat, or give way to a day-dream ; 
then look up again, and expatiate on the basking 
scene around you, with its ripples of blue and green, 
or of green and gold, — ^what the old poet beautifully 
calls the innumerable smile of the waters. 

^^ TlovTiwy re KVfiaTtty 

Xyiipi^liov ytkatriiar 

Prometheus Yinctus. 

The appearance of another vessel sets conjecture 
alive : it is " a Dane," '^ a Frenchman," ** a Portu- 
guese," and these words have a new effect upon us, as 
though we suddenly became intimate with the country 
to which they belong. A more striking effect of the 
same sort is produced by the sight of a piece of land ; 
it is Flamborough Head, Ushant, Cape Ortegal : — 
you see a part of another country, one perhaps on 
which you have never set foot ; and even this is a great 
thing : it gives you an advantage ; others have read 
of Spain or Portugal; you have seen it, and are a 
grown man and a traveller, compared with those 
little children of books. These novelties affect the 
dullest ; but to persons of any imagination, and such 
as are ready for any pleasure or consolation that 
oiature offers them^ they are like pieces of a new 



THE SEA AT NIGHT-TIME. 275 

morning of life. The world seems begun again, 
and our stock of knowledge recommencing on a new 
plan* 

Then at night-time, there are those beautiful fires 
on the water, by the vessel's side, upon the nature of 
which people seem hardly yet agreed. Some take 
them for animal decay, some for living animals, 
others for electricity. Perhaps all these causes have 
to do with it. In a fine blue sea, the foam caused by 
the ship at night seems full of stars. The white 
fermentation, with golden sparkles in it, is beauti- 
ful beyond conception. You look over the side of 
the vessel, and devour it with your eyes, as you 
would so much ethereal syllabub. Finally, the stars 
in the firmament issue forth, and the moon ; always 
the more lovely the farther you get soutL Or when 
there is no moon on the sea, the shadows at a little 
distance become grander and more solemn, and you 
watch for some huge fish to lift himself in the middle 
of them,— a darker mass, breathing and spouting 
water. 

The fish appear very happy. Some are pursued 
indeed, and others pursue ; there is a world of death 
as well as life going on. The mackerel avoids the 
porpoise, and the porpoise eschews the whale ; there is 
the sword-fish, who runs a-muck ; and the shark, the 
cruel scavenger. These are startling considerations ; 
but it is impossible, on reflection, to separate the idea 

T 2 . 



276 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

of happiness from that of health and activity. The 
fishes are not sick or sophisticate ; their blood is pure, 
their strength and agility prodigious; and a little 
peril, for aught we know, may serve to keep them 
moving, and give a relish to their vivacity. I looked 
upon the sea as a great tumbling wUdemess, fuU of 
sport To eat fish at sea, however, hardly looked 
fair, though it was the ffdrest of occasions : it seemed 
as if, not being an inhabitant, I had no right to the 
produce. I did not know how the dolphins might 
take it. At night-time, lying in a bed beneath the 
level of the water, I fancied sometimes that a fellow 
looked at me as he went by with his great side- 
long eyes, gaping objection. It was strange, I 
thought, to find oneself moving onward cheek by 
jowl with a porpoise, or yawning in concert with a 
shark. 

On the 21st, after another two days of cahn, and 
one of rain, we passed Cape Finisterre. There was 
a heavy swell and rolling. Being now on the 
Atlantic, with not even any other name for the part 
of it that we sailed over to interrupt the widest 
association of ideas, I thought of America, and Co- 
lumbus, and the chivalrous squadrons that set out 
from Lisbon, and the old Atlantis of Plato, formerly 
supposed to exist off the coast of Portus^ It is 
cuTus, that the Portuguese have a traditirto this 
day, that there is an island occasionally seen off the 



TRADITION OP THE ATLANTIS. 277 

coast of Lisbon. The story of the Atlantis looks 
like some old immemorial tradition of a country that 
has really existed ; nor is it difficult to suppose that 
there was formerly some great tract of land^ or even 
continent^ occupying these now watery regions, 
when we consider the fluctuation of things, and 
those changes of dry to moist, and of lofty to low, 
which are always taking place all over the globe. 
Off the coast of Cornwall, the mariner, it has been 
said, now rides over the old country of Lyones, or 
whatever else it was called, if that name be fabulous ; 
and there are stories of doors and casements, and 
other evidences of occupation, brought up from the 
bottom. These, indeed, have lately been denied, or 
reduced to nothing: but old probabilities remain. 
In the eastern seas, the gigantic work of creation 
is visibly going on, by means of those little creatures, 
the coral worms ; and new lands will as assuredly be 
inhabited there after a lapse of centuries, as old ones 
have vanished in the west. 

'* So, in them all, raignes mutabilitie.** 

22nd. Fine breeze to-day from the N.E. A great 
shark went by. One longs to give the fellow a great 
dig in the mouth. Yet he is only going **on his 
vocation." Without him, as without the vultures 
on land, something would be amiss. It is only moral 
pain and inequality which it is desirable to alter, — 



278 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

that which the mind of man has an invincible ten- 
dency to alter. 

To-daj the seas reminded me of the '^marmora 
pelagi," of Catullus (the ** marbles of the ocean"). 
They looked^ at a little distance^ like blue water 
petrified. You might have supposed^ that by some 
sudden catastrophe the mighty main had been 
turned into stone ; and the huge animals, whose re- 
mains we find in it, fixed there for ever. 

A shoal of porpoises broke up the fancy. Waves 
might be classed, as clouds have been; and more 
determination given to pictures of them. We ought 
to have waves and wavelets, billows, fluctuosities, 
&C., a marble sea, a sea weltering. The sea varies 
its look at the immediate side of the vessel, according 
as the progress is swift or slow. Sometimes it is a 
crisp and rapid flight, hissing ; sometimes an inter- 
weaving of the foam in snake-like characters ; some- 
times a heavy weltering, shouldering the ship on this 
side and that. In what is called " the trough of the 
sea," which is a common state to be in during vio- 
lent weather, the vessel literally appears stuck and 
labouring in a trough, the sea looking on either side 
like a hill of yeast. This was the gentlest sight we 
used to have in the Channel; very different from 
our summer amenities. I never saw what are called 
waves ^* mountains high." It is a figure of speech ; 
and a very violent one. 



SLEEPING INSTEAD OF WATCHING. 279 

A fine breeze all night, with many porpoises. 
Porpoises are supposed to portend a change of 
weather, bad or good : they are not prognosticators 
of bad alone. At night there was a " young May 
moon," skimming between the dark clouds, like a 
boat of silver. I was upon deck, and found the 
watcher asleep. A vessel might have tipped us all 
into the water, for anything that he knew, or per- 
haps cared. There ought to be watchers on board 
ship, exclusively for that office. It is not to be 
expected that sailors, who have been at work all 
day, should not sleep at night, especially out in the 
air. It is as natural to these children of the sea, as 
to infants carried out of doors. The sleeper in the 
present instance had had a pail thrown over him one 
night, which only put him in a rage, and perhaps 
made him sleep out of spite next time. He was a 
strong, hearty, Welsh lad, healthy and good-looking, 
in whose veins life coursed it so happily, that, in 
order to put him on a par with less fortunate con* 
stitutions, fate seemed to have brought about a state 
of warfare between him and the captain, who 
thought it necessary to be always giving him the 
rope's end. Poor John used to dance and roar with 
the sting of it, and take care to deserve it better next 
time. He was imquestionably " very aggravating," 
as the saying is ; but, on the other hand, the rope 
was not a little provoking. 



280 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

23rd. A strong breeze from the N. and N.E., with 
clouds and rain. The foam by the vessel's side was 
full of those sparkles I have mentioned, like stars in 
clouds of froth. On the 24th, the breeze increased, 
but the sky was fairer, and the moon gave a light. 
We drank the health of a friend in England, whose 
birthday it was ; being great observers of that part 
of religion. The 25th brought us beautiful weather, 
with a wind right from the north, so that we ran 
down the remainder of the coast of Portugal in high 
style. Just as we desired it, too, it changed to 
N.W., so as to enable us to turn the Strait of 
Gibraltar merrily. Cape St. Vincent (where the 
battle took place), just before you come to Gibraltar, 
is a beautifrd lone promontory jutting out upon the 
sea, and crowned with a convent. It presented 
itself to my eyes the first thing when I came upon 
deck in the morning, — clear, solitary, blind-look- 
ing ; feeling, as it were, the sea air and the soli- 
tude for ever, like something between stone and 
spirit. It reminded me of a couplet, written not 

long before, of 

" Ghastly castle, that eternally 
Holds its blind Tisage out to the lone sea." 

Such things are beheld in one's day-dreams, and we 
are almost startled to find them real. 

Between the Cape and Gibraltar were some fisher- 
men, ten or twelve in a boat, fishing with a singular 



seamen's notions op foreign tongues. 281 

dancing motion of the line. These were the first 
** Southrons " we had seen in their own domain ; and 
they interested us accordingly. One man took off 
his cap. In return for this politeness^ the sailors 
joked them in bad Portuguese, and shouted with 
laughter at the odd sound of their language when 
they replied. A seaman, within his ship and his 
limited horizon, thinks he contains the whole circle 
of knowledge. Whatever gives him a hint of any- 
thing else, he looks upon as absurdity ; and is the 
first to laugh at his own ignorance, without knowing 
it, in another shape. That a Portuguese should not 
be able to speak English, appears to him the most 
ludicrous thing in the world ; while, on his part, he 
affects to think it a condescension to speak a few 
rascally words of Portuguese, though he is in reality 
very proud of them. The more ignorance and in- 
ability, the more pride and intolerance ! A servant- 
maid whom we took with us to Italy, could not 
** abide " the disagreeable sound of Tuscan ; and pro- 
fessed to change the word grazie into grochr/y because 
it was prettier. 

All this comer of the Peninsula is rich in ancient 
and modern interest. There is Cape St. Vincent, 
just mentioned ; Trafalgar, more illustrious; Cadiz, 
the city of Geryon ; Gibraltar, and the other pillar 
of Hercules ; Atlantis, Plato's Island, which he puts 
hereabouts; and the Fortunate Islands, Elysian 



282 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

Fields, or Gardens of the Hesperldes, which, under 
different appellations, and often confounded with one 
another, lay in this part of the Atlantic, according 
to Pliny. Here, also, if we are to take Dante's 
word for it, Ulysses found a grave, not unworthy 
of his life in the Odyssey. Milton ought to have 
come this way from Italy, instead of twice going 
through France. He would have found himself in 
a world of poetry, the unaccustomed grandeur of 
the sea keeping it in its original freshness, unspoilt 
by the commonplaces that beset us on shore; and 
his descriptions would have been still finer for it. 
It is observable, that Milton does not deal much in 
descriptions of the ocean, a very epic part of poetry. 
He has been at Homer and ApoUonius, more than 
at sea. In one instance, he is content with giving 
us an ancient phrase in one-half of his line, and a 
translation of it in the other : — 

" On the dear hyaline, — the glassy sea." 

The best describer of the sea, among our English 
poets, is Spenser, who was conversant with the 
Irish ChanneL Shakspeare, for an inland poet, is 
wonderftd ; but his astonishing sympathy with every- 
thing, animate and inanimate, made him lord of the 
universe, without stirring from his seat. Nature 
brought her shows to him like a servant, and drew 
back for his eye the curtains of time and place. Mil-^ 



POETS ON THE SEA. 283 

ton and Dante speak of the ocean as of a great plsdn. 
Shakspeare talks as if he had ridden upon it, and 
felt its unceasing motion. 



»♦ 



" The stiU-vext Bermoothes. 

What a presence is there in that epithet ! He draws 
a rocky island with its waters about it^ as if he had 
lived there all his life ; and he was the first among our 
dramatists to paint a sailor, — as he was to lead the 
way in those national caricatures of Frenchmen, 
Scotchmen, and Irishmen. 

" You by whose aid,** 
says Prospero,- 

" Weak masters though ye be, I have be-dimm'd 
The noon-tide sun, calFd forth the mutinous winds, 
And *twixt the green sea and the azur*d vault 
Set roaring war" 

He could not have said it better, had he been buf- 
feted with all the blinding and shrieking of a Chan- 
nel storm. As to Spenser, see his comparisons of 
'* biQows in the Irish sounds ;" his 

" World of waters, wide and deep,** 

in the first book, — ^much better than " the ocean 
floor " (suol marina) of Dante ; and all the sea- 
pictures, both fair and stormy, in the wonderful 
twelfth canto of Book the Second, with its fabulous 
ichthyology, part of which I must quote here for 



284 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

the pleasure of poetical readers : for the seas ought 
not to be traversed without adverting to these other 
shapes of their terrors— 

" All dreadfuU pourtraicts of deformitie ; 
Spring-headed hydras, and sea'shouldering whales ; 
Great whirle-pooles which all fishes make to flee ; 
Bright scolopendras, arm*d with silver scales ; 
Mighty monoceros with immeasured tayles.* 
The dreadfuU fish that hath deserved the name 
Of Death, and like him looks in dreadfuU hew ; 
The griesly wasserman, that makes his game 
The flying ships with swiftness to pursew ; 
The horrihie sea-satyre, that doth shew 
His fearefuU face in time of greatest storm ; 
Huge zifiius, whom mariners eschew 
No less than rocks, as travellers informe ; 

(How he loads his verses with a weight of appre- 
hension^ as if it was all real I) 

And greedy rosmarines, with visages deforme. 

'* AU these, and thousand thousands many more. 
And more deformed monsters, thousand-^fold, 
With dreadfuU noise and hollow rumhling rore 
Came rushing, in the fomy waves enroU*d, 
Which seem'd to fly, for feare them to hehold. 
No wonder if these did the knight appall: 
For aU that here on earth we dreadfuU hold, 
Be hut as hugs to fearen hahes withall, 
Compared to the creatures in the 8ea*s enthrall." 

* This is the smisurato of the Italians. In the Orlando 
Innamorato somehody comes riding on a smisurato cavallone^ 
an inmieasurahle horse. 



SIGHT OP AFRICA. 285 

Five dreadfuUs in the course of three stanzas, and 
not one too many, any more than if a believing child 
were talking to us. 

Gibraltar has a noble look, tall, hard, and inde- 
pendent. But you do not wish to live there: — it 
is a fortress, and an insulated rock; and such a 
place is but a prison. The inhabitants feed luxu- 
riously, with the help of their fruits and smug- 
glers. 

The first sight of Africa is an achievement. Voy- 
agers in our situation are obliged to be content with 
a mere sight of it ; but that is mucL They have 
seen another quarter of the globe. '* Africa ! " They 
look at it, and repeat the word, till the whole burn- 
ing and savage territory, with its black inhabitants 
and its lions, seems put into their possession. Ceuta 
and Tangier bring 'the old Moorish times before 
you ; " Ape's Hill," which is pointed out, sounds 
fantastic and remote, '^a wilderness of monkeys;" 
and as all shores on which you do not clearly dis- 
tinguish objects have a solemn and romantic look, 
you get rid of the petty effect of those vagabond 
Barbary States that occupy the coast, and think at 
once of Africa, the country of deserts and wild 
beasts, the *^ dry-nurse of lions," as Horace, with a 
vigour beyond himself, calls it. 

At Gibraltar you first have a convincing proof 
of the rarity of the southern atmosphere, in the near 



286 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

look of the Straits, which seem but a few miles 
across, though they are thirteen. 

But what a crowd of thoughts face one on enter- 
ing the Mediterranean ! Grand as the sensation is 
in passing through the classical and romantic me- 
mories of the sea off the western coast of the Penin- 
sula, it is little compared with this. Countless 
generations of the human race, from three quarters 
of the world, with all the religions, and the mytholo- 
gies, and the genius, and the wonderful deeds, good 
and bad, that have occupied almost the whole atten- 
tion of mankind, look you in the face from the gal- 
leries of that ocean-floor, rising one above another, till 
the tops are lost in heaven* The water at your feet 
is the same water that badies the shores of Europe, 
of Afiica, and of Asia,— of Italy and Greece, and 
the Holy Land, and the land^ of chivalry and ro- 
mance, and pastoral Sicily, and the Pyramids, and 
old Crete, and the Arabian city of Al Cairo, glitter- 
ing in the magic lustre of the Thousand and One 
Nights. This soft air in your fitce comes from the 
grove of " Daphne by Orontes ;" these lucid waters, 
that part from before you like oil, are the same from 
which Venus arose, pressing them out of her hair. 
In that quarter Vulcan fell — 

^ Dropt from the zenith like a falling star :** 

and there is Circe's Island, and Calypso's, and the 



THE PEN OP THE SUN. 287 

promontory of Plato, and Ulysses wandering, and 
Cymon and Miltlades fightings and Begulus crossing 
the sea to Carthage, and 

** Damasco and Morocco, and Trebisond ; 
And whom Biserta sent &om Afric shore, 
When Charlemagne with all his peerage &11 
By Fontarabbia.*' 

The mind hardly separates truth from fiction in 
thinking of all these things, nor does it wish to do 
so. Fiction is Truth in another shape, and gives as ! 
close embraces. You may shut a door upon a ruby, " 
and render it of no colour ; but the colour shall not 
be the less enchanting for that, when the sun, the 
poet of the world, touches it with his golden pen. 
What we glow at and shed tears over, is as real as 
love and pity. 

At night the moon arose in a perfection of serenity, 
and restored the scene to the present moment. I 
could not help thinking, however, of Anacreon 
(poets are of all moments), and fancying some con- 
nection with moonlight in the very sound of that 
beautiful verse in which he speaks of the vernal 
softness of the waves : — 

" Apaliinetai gal^n^.'* 

I write the verse in English characters, that every 
reader may taste it. 

All our Greek beauties why should schools engross P 



288 lAVe OF LEIGH HUNT. 

I used to feel grateful to Fielding and Smollett^ 

when a boy, for writing their Greek in English. It 

is like catching a bit of a beautiful song, though one 

does not know the words. 

27th. Almost a cahn. We proceeded at no greater 

rate than a mile an hour. I kept repeating to 

myself the word "Mediterranean;" not the word 

in prose, but the word in verse, as it stands at the 

beginning of the line : 

** And the sea 
Mediterranean.** 

We saw the mountains about Malaga, topped with 
snow. Yelez Malaga is probably the place at which 
Cervantes landed on his return from captivity at 
Algiers. (See Dan Quixote, voL ii.) I had the 
pleasure of reading the passage, while crossing the 
line betwixt the two cities. It is something to sail 
by the very names of Granada and Andalusia. 
There was a fine sunset over the hills of Granada. 
I imagined it lighting up the Alhambra. The clouds 
were like great wings of gold and yeUow and rose- 
colour, with a smaller minute sprinkle in one spot, 
like a shower of glowing stones fi*om a volcano. You 
see very faint imitations of such lustre in England. 
A heavy dew succeeded; and a contrary wind at 
south-east, but very mild. At night, the reflection 
of the moon on the water was like silver snakes. 
We had conteary winds for eeveral days in euo- 



THE "ANCIENT MARINEE." 289 

cession^ but nothing to signify after our winter. On 
the 28th we saw a fire at night on the coast of 
Granada^ and similar lights on the hiUs. The former 
was, perhaps, made by smugglers ; the latter, in 
burning charcoal or heath. A gull came to us next 
day, hanging in the air, like the dove in the picture, 
a few yards' distance from the trysail, and occa- 
sionally dipping in the water for fish. It had a 
amall head, and long beak, Kke a snipers ; wings 
tipped with black. It reminded us of Coleridge's 
poem; which my eldest boy, in the teeth of his 
father's rhymes, had the impudence to think the finest 
poem in the world. We may say of the Ancient 
Mariner^ what is only to be said of the very finest 
poems, that it is equally calculated to please the 
imaginations of the most childlike boy and the pro- 
foimdest man ; extremes, which meet in those super- 
human places; and superhuman, in a sense exqui- 
sitely human, as well as visionary. I believe Cole- 
ridge's young admirer would have been as much 
terrified at* shooting this albatross, as the one the 
poet speaks of; not to mention that he could not be 
quite sure it was a different one. 

30th. Passed Cape de Gata. My wife was very 
ill, but observed that illness itself was not iUness, 
compared to what she experienced in the winter 
voyage. She never complained, summer or winter. 
It is very distressing not to be able to give perfect 

VOL. II. U 



290 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

comfort to patients of this generous description. 
The Mediterranean Sea, after the Channel, was like 
a bason of gold fish ; but when the winds are con- 
trary, the waves of it have a short uneasy motion, 
that fidget the vessel, and make one long for the 
nobler billows of the Atlantic. The wind, too, was 
singularly unpleasant,— moist and feverish. It con- 
tinued contrary for several days, but became more 
agreeable, and sank almost into a calm on the 3rd of 
June. It is difficult for people on shore, in spite of 
their geographical knowledge, not to suppose that 
the view is very extensive at sea. Intermediate 
objects being out of the way, and the fancy taking 
wing like the dove of Noah, they imagine the 
*^ ocean-floor," as the poets call it, extending itself 
interminably all round, or bounded by an enormous 
horizon; whereas, the stretch of vision is limited 
to a distance of about seven miles, and the un- 
interrupted concave of the horizon, completes the 
look of enclosure and limitation. A man on the 
top of a moderate hill may see four o» five times 
as far as from the mainmast of a man-of-war. 
In the thin atmosphere of the south, the horizon 
appears to be still more circumscribed. You seem to 
have but a very few miles around you, and can hardly 
help fancying that the sea is on a miniature scale, 
proportioned to the delicacy of its behaviour. 

On the day above mentioned, we saw the land 



WBITINGS OF BAYLE. 291 

between Cape St. Martin and Alicant. The coast 
hereabouts is all of the same rude and gray character. 
From this night to the next it was ahnost a calm, 
when a more favourable wind sprang up at east- 
south-east. The books with which I chiefly amused 
myself in the Mediterranean, were Don Quixote (for 
reasons which will be obvious to the reader), Ariosto 
and Berni (for similar reasons, their heroes having to 
do with the coasts of France and Africa), and Bayle's 
admirable Essay on Comets^ which I picked up at 
Plymouth. It is the book that put an end to the 
superstition about comets. It is fuU of amusement, 
like all his dialectics ; and holds together a perfect 
chain-armour of logic, the handler of which may 
cut his fingers with it at every turn, almost 
every link containing a double edge. A gene- 
ration succeeds quietly to the good done it by 
such works, and its benefactor's name is sunk in the 
washy pretensions of those whom he has enriched. 
As to what seems defective in Bayle on the score of 
natural piety, the reader may supply that. A bene- 
volent work, tending to do away real dishonour to 
things supernatural, will be no hinderance to any 
benevolent addition which others can bring it; nor 
would Bayle, with his good-natured face, and the 
scholarly simplicity of his life, have found fault with 
it. But he was a soldier, after his fashion, with 
qualities, both positive and negative, fit to keep him 

u 2 



292 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

one ; and some things must be dispensed with on the 
side of what is desirable, for the sake of the part that 
is taken in the overthrow of what is detestable. Him 
whom inquisitors hate, angels may love. 

All day, on the 5th, we were off the island of 
Yvica. The wind was contrary again till evening. 
Yvica was about ten miles off, when nearest. It 
has a barren look, with its rock in &ont. Spain was 
in sight ; before and beyond. Cape St. Martin. The 
high land of Spain above the clouds had a look really 
mountainous. After having the sea to ourselves for 
a long while, we saw a vessel in our own situation, 
beating to wind and tide. Sympathy is sometimes 
cruel as well as kind. One likes to have a compa- 
nion in misfortune. At night fell a calm. 

6th, It was a grand thing this evening, to see on 
one side of us the sunset, and on the other side, night' 
Umsy already on the sea. " Kuit oceano nox" (night 
rushes on the sea). It is not true that there is no 
twilight in the south, but it is very brief. Before 
the day is finished on one side, night is on the 
other. You turn and behold it unexpectedly — a 
black shade that fills one end of the horizon, and 
seems at once brooding and coming on. One sight 
like this, to a Hesiod or a Thales, is sufficient to fill 
poetry for ever with those images of brooding, and of 
raven wings, and the birth of Chaos, which are 
associated with the mythological idea of night. 



SHIPS HAILING ONE ANOTHEB AT SEA 293 

To-day we hailed a ship bound for Nice, which 
would not tell us the country she came from. 
Questions put by one vessel to another are frequently 
reftised an answer, for reasons of knavery or policy. 
It was curious to hear our rough and informal captain 
speaking through his trumpet with all the precision 
and loud gravity of a preacher. There is a formula 
in use on these occasions that has an old scriptural 
effect. A ship descried, appears to the sailors like a 
friend visiting them in prison. All hands are inter- 
ested : all eyes turn to the same quarter ; the business 
of the vessel is suspended ; and such as have licence 
to do so, crowd on the gangway ; the captain, with 
an air of dignity, having his trumpet brought him. 
You think that "What cheer, ho?" is to follow, or, 
" Well, my lads, who are you ? and where are you 
going?" Not so; the captain applies his mouth 
with a pomp of preparation, and you are startled 
with the following primitive shouts, all uttered in a 
high formal tone, with due intervals between, as if 
a Calvinistic Stentor were questioning a man from 
the land of Goshen : — 

" What is your name ? " 

" Whence come you ? " 

" Whither are you bound ?" 

After the question " What is your name ? " all ears 
are bent to listen. The answer comes, high and re- 
mote, nothing, perhaps, being distinguished of it but 



294 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

the vowels. The ** Sall-of-Hym,'' you must transkte 
into the SaUy of Plymouth. 

*^ Whence come you ?" All ears bent again. 
^ Myr" or " Mau," Is Smyrna or Malta. 

" Whither are you bound ?" All ears again. No 
answer. **D— d if hell tell," cries the captain, lay- 
ing down at once his trumpet and his scripture. 

7th. Saw the Colombrettes, and the land about 
Tortosa. Here commences the ground of Italian 
romance. It was on this part of the west of Spain, 
that the Paynim chivalry used to land, to go against 
Charlemagne. Here Orlando played him the tricks 
that got him the title of Furioso ; and from the port 
of Barcelona, Angelica and Medoro took ship for her 
dominion of Cathay. I confess I looked at these 
shores with a human interest, and could not help 
fancying that the keel of our vessel was crossing a 
real line, over which knights and lovers had passed. 
And so they have, both real and fabulous ; the former 
not less romantic, the latter scarcely less real; to 
thousands, indeed, much more so ; for who knows not 
of hundreds of real men and women that have crossed 
these waters, and suffered actual passion on those 
shores and hills ? And who knows not Orlando and 
all the hard blows he gave, and the harder blow than 
all given him by two happy lovers ; and the lovers 
themselves, the representatives of all the young love 
that ever was. I had a grudge of my own against 



ANGELICA AND MEDORO. 295 

Angelica, looking upon myself as jilted by those fine 
eyes which the painter has given her in the English 
picture ; for I took her for a more sentimental per- 
son; but I excused her, seeing her beset and tor- 
mented by all those knights, who thought they 
earned a right to her by hacking and hewing ; and I 
more than pardoned her, when I found that Medoro, 
besides being young and handsome, was a &iend and 
a devoted follower. But what of that ? They were 
both young and handsome ; and love, at that time of 
life, goes upon no other merits, taking -all the rest 
upon trust in the generosity of its wealth, and as 
willing to bestow a throne as a ribbon, to show the 
all-sufficiency of its contentment. Fair speed your 
sails over the lucid waters, ye lovers, on a lover-like 
sea! Fair speed them, yet never land; for where 
the poet has left you, there ought ye, as ye are, to be 
living for ever — ^for ever gliding about a summer-sea, 
touching at its flowery islands, and reposing beneath 
its moan. 

The blueness of the water about these parts was 
excessive, especially in the shade next the vessel's 
side. The gloss of the sunshine was there taken ofi^ 
and the colour was exactly that of the bottles sold in 
the shops with gold stoppers. In the shadows caused 
by the more transparent medium of the sails, an 
exquisite radiance was thrown up, like light struck 
out of a great precious stone. These colours, con- 



296 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

trasted with the yellow of the horizon at sunset^ 
formed one of those spectacles of beauty, which it is 
4iflScult to believe not intended to delight many more 
spectators than can witness them with human eyes. 
Earth and sea are full of gorgeous pictures, which 
seem made for a nobler and certainly a more nu- 
merous admiration than is found among ourselves. 
Individuals may roam the loveliest country for a 
summer's day, and hardly meet a person bound on 
the same enjoyment as themselves. Does human 
nature flatter itself that all this beauty was made for 
its dull and absent eyes, gone elsewhere to poke about 
for pence ? Or, if so, is there not to be discerned 
in it a new and religious reason for being more alive 
to the wholesome riches of nature, and less to those 
carking cares and unneighbourly emulations of cities ? 
8th. Calm tlU evening, when a fairer wind arose, 
which continued all night. There was a divine sun- 
set over the mouth of the Ebro, — majestic, dark- 
embattled clouds, with an Intense sun venting itself 
above and below like a Shekinah, and the rest of the 
heaven covered with large flights of little burnished 
and white clouds. It was what Is called In England a 
mackerel sky, —an appellation which may serve to 
show how inferior it Is to a sky of the same mottled 
description in the south. All colours in the north 
are comparatively cold and fishy. You have only to 
see a red cap under a Mediterranean sun, to be con- 



INFLUENCE OF CLIMATE ON MIND. 297 

vinced that our painters will never emulate those of 
Italy as our poets have done. They are birds of a 
different clime, and are modified accordingly. They, 
do not live upon the same lustrous food ; therefore 
will never show it in their plumage. Poetry is the 
internal part, or sentiment, of what is material ; and 
therefore, our thoughts being driven inwards, and 
rendered imaginative by these very defects of climate 
which discolour to us the external world, we have 
had among us some of the greatest poets that ever 
existed. It is observable, that the greatest poets of 
Italy came from Tuscany, where there is a great 
deal of inclemency in the seasons. The painters 
were from Venice, Rome, and other quarters ; some 
of which, though more northern, are more genially 
situated. The hills about Florence made Petrarch 
and Dante well acquainted with winter ; and they 
were also travellers, and unfortunate. These are 
mighty helps to reflection. Titian and Raphael had 
nothing to do but to paint under a blue sky half the 
day, and play with their mistress's locks all the rest 
of it. Let a painter in cloudy and bill-broking 
England do this if he can. 

9th. Completely fair wind at south-west. Saw 
Montserrat. The sunshine, reflected on the water 
from the lee studding-sail, was like shot silk. At 
half-past seven in the evening, night was risen in the 
east, while the sun was setting opposite. "Black 



298 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 

night has come up ahready^" said our poetical caption. 
A fair breeze all night and all next day^ took us on 
at the rate of about five miles an hour^ very refresh- 
ing after the calms and foul winds. We passed the 
Gulf of Lyons still more pleasantly than we did the 
Bay of Biscay^ for in the latter there was a calm. 
In both of these places^ a little rough handling is 
generally looked for. A hawk settled on the main- 
yard^ and peered about the birdless main. 

llth. Light airs not quite fair^ till noon^ when 
they returned and were somewhat stronger. (I am 
thus particular in my daily notices, both to complete 
the reader's sense of the truth of my narrative, and 
to give him the benefit of them in case he goes the 
same road.) The land about Toulon was now visible, 
and then the Hieres Islands, a French paradise of 
orangeB and sweet air^ 

** Cheered with the grateful smell, old Ocean smiles.** 

The perftime exhaling from these and other flowery 
coasts is no fable, as every one knows who has passed 
Gribraltar and the coast of Genoa. M. le Franc de 
Pompignan, in some verses of the commonest French 
manufacture, tells us, with respect to the Hieres 
Islands, that Vertumnus, Pomona, Zephyr, &c. 
** reign there always," and that the place is "the 
asylum of their loves, and the throne of their em- 
pire.'' Very private and pubUc I 



SARDINIA AND THE "HOLY ALLIES*" 299 



u 



Vertumne, Pomone, Zephyre 
Avec Flore y regnent toujoors ; 
C*est Tasyle de leurs amours, 

Et le trone de leur empire." 



It was the coast of Provence we were now looking 
upon, the land of the Troubadours. It seemed but 
a short cut over to TripoK, where Geoffrey Rudel 
went to look upon his mistress and die. But our 
attention was called off by a less romantic spectacle, a 
sight unpleasant to an Englishman, — ^the union flag 
of Genoa and Sardinia hoisted on a boat. An inde- 
pendent flag of any kind is something ; a good old 
battered and conquered one is much ; but this bit of 
the Holy Alliance livery, patched up among his bro- 
ther servants by poor Lord Castlereagh, and making 
its bow in the very seas where Andrew Doria feasted 
an emperor and refused a sovereignty, was a baulk 
of a very melancholy kind of burlesque. The Sar- 
dinian was returning with empty wine casks from 
the French coast ; a cargo which, at the hour of day 
when we saw it, probably bore the liveliest possible 
resemblance to the heads whom he served. The 
wind fell in the evening, and there was a dead calm 
all night. At eleven o'clock, a grampus was heard 
breathing very hard, but we could not see it on 
account of the mists, the only ones we had expe- 
rienced in the Mediterranean. These sounds of 
great fish in the night-time are very imposing, the 



300 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

creature displacing a world of water about it^ as it 
dips and rises at intervals on its billowy path. 

12th. During the night we must have crossed the 
path which Bonaparte took to Antibes from Elba. 
We went over it as unconsciously as he now travels 
round with the globe in his long sleep. Talking 
with the captain to-day, I 'learned that his kindred 
and he monopolize the whole employment of his 
owner, and that his father served in it thirty-three 
years out of fifty. There is always something 
respectable in continuity and duration. If this 
family should continue to be masters and conductors 
of vessels for two or three generations, more espe- 
cially in the same interest, they wiU have a sort 
of moral pedigree to show, far beyond those of many 
proud families, who do nothing at all because their 
ancestors did something a hundred years back. 

I will here set down a memorandum, with regard 
to vessels, which may be useful The one we sailed 
in was marked A. 1, in the shipping list : that is to 
say, it stood in the first rank of sea-worthy vessels ; 
and it is in vessels of this class that people are always 
anxious to saiL In the present instance, the ship 
was worthy of the rank it bore; so was the one 
we buffeted the Channel in ; or it would not have 
held out. But this mark of prime worthiness, A. 1, 
a vessel is allowed to retain only ten years ; the con- 
sequence of which is, that many ships are built to 



riBST SIGHT OF MOUNTAINS. 301 

last only that time ; and goods and lives are often 
entrusted to a weak vessel^ instead of one which, 
though twice as old, is in twice as good condition. 
The best way is to get a friend who knows some- 
thing of the matter, to make inquiries ; and the sea- 
worthiness of the captain himself, his standing with 
his employers, &c., might as well be added to the 
list. 

13tL The Alps ! It was the first time I had 
seen moimtains. They had a fine sulky look, up 
aloft in the sky, — cold, lofty, and distant. 1 used 
to think that mountains would impress me but little ; 
that by the same process of imagination reversed, 
by which a brook can be fancied a mighty river, with 
forests instead of verdure on its banks, a mountain 
could be made a mole-hill, over which we step. But 
one look convinced me to the contrary. I found I 
could elevate, better than I could pull down ; and I 
was glad of it. It was not that the sight of the Alps 
was necessary to convince me of "the being of a 
God," as it is said to have done somebody, or to put 
me upon any reflections respecting infinity and first 
causes, of which I have had enough in my time ; but 
I seemed to meet for the first time a grand poetical 
thought in a material shape, — ^to see a piece of one's 
book-wonders realized, — something very earthly, yet 
standing between earth and heaven, like a piece of 
the antediluvian world looking out of the coldness of 



302 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

ages. I remember reading in a Review a passage 
from some book of travels, which spoke of the author 
standing on the sea-shore, and being led by the silence 
and the abstraction, and the novel grandeur of the 
objects around him, to think of the earth, not in its 
geographical relations, but as a planet in connection 
with other planets, and rolling in the inmiensity of 
space. With these thoughts I have been familiar, 
as I suppose every one has been who knows what 
solitude is, and has an imagination, and perhaps not 
the best health. But we grow used to the mightiest 
aspects of thought, as we do to the immortal visages 
of the moon and stars : and therefore the first sight 
of the Alps, though much less things than any of 
these, and a toy, as I had fancied, for imagination to 
recreate itself with after their company, startles us 
like the disproof of a doubt, or the verification of an 
early dream, — ^a ghost, as it were, made visible by 
daylight, and giving us an enormous sense of its pre- 
sence and materiality. 

In the course of the day, we saw the tableland 
about Monaco. It brought to my mind the ludi- 
crous distress of the petty prince of that place, when 
on his return from interchanging congratulations 
with his new masters and the legitimates, he sud- 
denly met his old master. Napoleon, on his return 
from Elba. Or did he meet him when going to 
Elba ? I forget which ; but the distresses and con- 



BBILLIANT CLOUDS AT SUNSET. 303 

fusion of the prince were at all events as certain as 

the superiority and amusement of the great man. 

In either case^ this was the natural division of things^ 

and the circumstances would have been the same. 

A large grampus went by, heaping the water into 

clouds of foam. Another time, we saw a shark with 

his fin above water, which, I beUeve, is his constant 

way of going. The Alps were now fully and closely 

seen, and a glorious sunset took place. There was 

the greatest grandeur and the loveliest beauty. 

Among others was a small string of clouds, like 

rubies with facets, a very dark tinge being put here 

and there, as if by a painter, to set off the rest. 

Red is certainly the colour of beauty, and ruby the 

most beautiful of reds. It was in no commonplace 

spirit that Marlowe, in his list of precious stones, 

called them " beauteous rubies," but with exquisite 

gusto: 

'^ Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts, 
Jacinths, hard topaz, grass-green emeralds. 
Beauteous rubies, sparkling diamonds," &c. 

They come upon you, among the rest, like the women 
of gems. All these colours we had about us in our 
Mediterranean sunsets ; and as if fortune would add 
to them by a freak of fancy, a little shoal of fish, 
sparkling as silver, leaped out of the water this after- 
noon, like a sprinkle of shillings. They were the 
anchovies, or Sardinias, that we eat. They give a 



304 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

burlesque title to the soyereign of these seas, whom 
the Tuscans call ^' King of the Sardinias." 

We were now sailing up the angle of the Gulf of 
Genoa, its shore looking as Italian as possible, with 
groves and white villages. The names, too, were 
alluring, — Oneglia, Albenga, Savona; the last, the 
birthplace of a sprightly poet (Frugoni), whose works 
I was acquainted with. The breeze was the strong- 
est we had had yet, and not quite fair, but we made 
good head against it ; the queen-like city of Genoa, 
crowned with white palaces, sat at the end of the 
gulf, as if to receive us in state ; and at two o'clock, 
the waters being as blue as the sky, and all hearts 
rejoicing, we entered our Italian harbour, and heard 
Italian words. 

Luckily for us, these first words were Tuscan. 
A pilot boat came out. Somebody asked a ques- 
tion which we did not hear, and the captain replied 
to it. "Va bene," said the pilot, in a fine open 
voice, and turned the head of the boat with a 
tranquil dignity. *^Va bene," thought I, indeed. 
"All goes well" truly. The words are delicious, 
and the omen good. My family have arrived so 
far in safety; we have but a little more voyage 
to make, a few steps to measure back in this calm 
Mediterranean ; the weather is glorious ; Italy looks 
like what we expected; in a day or two we shall 
hear of our friends: health and peace are before 



A DINNER IN HARBOUR. 305 

US, pleasure to others and profit to ourselves; and 
it is hard if we do not enjoy again, before long, 
the society of all our friends, both abroad and at 
home. In a day or two we received a letter from 
Shelley, saying that winds and waves, he hoped, 
would never part us more. — Alas! for that saying. 

In the harbour of Genoa, we lay next a fine 
American vessel, the captain of which, I thought, 
played the great man in a style beyond anything 
I had seen in our English merchantmen. On the 
other side of us, was an Englishman, as fragile as 
the other was stout built. Yet the captain, with 
a dialect more uncouth than any of us had heard, 
talked of its weathering the last winter capitally, 
and professed not to care anything for a gale of 
wind, which he called a "gal o' wined." We here 
met with our winter vessel, looking as gay and 
summery as possible, and having an awning stretched 
over the deck, under which the captain invited us 
to dine. I went land had the pleasure of meeting 
our friend the mate, and a good-natured country- 
man, residing at Genoa, who talked much of a 
French priest whom he knew, and whom he called 
** the prate" (j)ritre). Our former companions, in 
completing their voyage, had had a bad time of it 
in the Gulf of Lyons, during which the ship was 
under water, the cook-house and bulwarks, &c., 
carried away, and the men obliged to be taken aft 

VOL. II. X 



306 L(f £ 07 LEIGH HCTNT, 

into the cabin two nights together. We had reason 
to hlese ourselves that my wife was not there ; 
for thiis would infalUbl j have put an end to her. 

On the 2<8th of June» we set sail for Leghcmi. 
The weather was still as fine m possible, and our 
concluding trip as agreeable; with the exception 
of a storm of thunder and lightning one night, 
which was the completest I ever saw. Our news- 
paper friend^ ^^the oldest man living," ought to 
have been there to see it. The lightning fell in 
all parts of the sea, like {Hilars ; or like great melted 
fires, suddenly dropped (roox a giant tordb. Now 
it pierced the sea like rods ; now fell like enormiOUA 
flakes or tongues, suddenly swallowed up. At one 
time, it seemed to confine itself to a dark comer 
of the ocean, making formidable shows of gigantic 
and flashing lances (for it was the most perp^sH 
dicular lightning I ev^ saw) : then it dashed broadly 
at the whole sea, as if it would sweep us away in 
flame; and then came in random portions about 
the vessel^ treading the waves hither and thither, 
like the legs of fiery spirits descending in wrath. 

I now had a specimen (and confess I waa not 
sorry to see it) of the fear which oonld enter even 
into the hearts of our ^^ gallant heroes," when thrown 
into an unusual situation* The captain, almost the 
only man immoved, or apparently so (and I really 
believe he was as fearless on all occasions, as his 



BRITISH SEAMBir FBIQHTENED. 307 

native valour, to say nothing of his brandy and 
water, could make him), was so exasperated with 
the alarm depicted in the faces of some of his 
crew, thal^ he dashed his hand contemptuously at 
the poor fellow at the hehn, and called him a 
coward. For our parts, having no fear of thunder 
and lightning, and not being fully aware perhaps 
of the danger to which vessels are exposed on these ' 
occasions, particularly if, like our Channel friend, 
they carry gunpowder (as most of them do, more 
or less), we were quite at our ease compared with 
our inexperienced friends about us, who had never 
witnessed anything of the like before even in books. 
Besides, we thought it impossible for the Medi- 
terranean to play U3 any serious trick,- — that sunny 
and lucid basin^ which we had beheld only in its 
contrast with a northern and a winter sea. Little 
did we ihmk, that in so short a space of time, and 
somewhere about this very spot, a catastrophe 
would take place, that should put an end to all 
sweet thoughts, both of the Mediterranean and the 
south. 



X 2 



308 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT. 



CHAPTER XVin, 

EETURN TO FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH LORD 
BYRON AND THOMAS MOORE. 

First sight of Lord Byron. — Jackson the prize-fighter. — Bathing at 
Westminster, — Sympathy with early poems. — More prison recol- 
lections. — Lord Byron and the House of Peers. — Thomas Moore 
and the Liberal. — Mistaken conclusions of his. — His appearance, 
manners, and opinions. — Letters of Lord Byron, 

Lord Byron was at Leghorn; the bad weather has 
disappeared; the vessel is about to enter port; and 
as everything concerning the noble lord is interest- 
ing^ and the like may be said of his brother wit and 
poet, Thomas Moore, who introduced me to him, 
I will take this opportunity of doing what had 
better, perhaps, been done when I first made his 
lordship's acquaintance; namely, state when it was 
that I first saw the one, and how I became ac- 
quainted with the other. My intimacy with Lord 
Byron is about to become closer; the results of it 
are connected both with him and his friend, and as 
these results are on the eve of commencing, my own 



LORD BYRON BATHING AT WESTMINSTER. 309 

interest in the subject is strengthened^ and I call 
things to mind which I had suffered to escape me. 

The first time I saw Lord Byron, he was re- 
hearsing the part of Leander, under the auspices of 
Mr. Jackson the prize-fighter. It was in the river 
Thames, before he went to Greece. There used to 
be a bathing-machine stationed on the eastern side 
of Westminster Bridge ; and I had been bathing, and 
was standing on this machine adjusting mj clothes, 
when I noticed a respectable-looking manly person, 
who was eyeing something at a distance. This was 
Mr. Jackson waiting for his pupiL The latter was 
swinuning with somebody for a wager. I forgot 
what his tutor said of him ; but he spoke in terms 
of praise. I saw nothing in Lord Byron at that 
time, but a young man who, like myself, had written 
a bad volume of poems ; and though I had a sym- 
pathy with him on this account, and more respect 
for his rank than I was willing to suppose, my sym- 
pathy was not an agreeable one; so, contenting 
myself with seeing his lordship's head bob up and 
down in the water, like a buoy, I came away. 

Lord Byron, when he afterwards came to see me 
in prison, was pleased to regret that. I had not 
stayed. He told me, that the sight of my volume at 
Harrow had been one of his incentives to write 
verses, and that he had had the same passion for 
friendship which I had displayed in it. To my 



31Q LIFE OP LBIGH HUNT. 

astonkhment he quoted some af the lines^ and "wovld 
not hear me speak ill of them. His harbinger m 
ihe yisit was Moore. MoOTe told me^ that, besides 
likii^ my pcditics^ his lordship £ked die JFeast of &t 
Poets, and would be glad to make my acquaintance. 
I said I fdt myself highly flattered^ and should be 
proud to entertain his lordship as well as a poor 
patriot could. He was accordin]^y in^vited to dinner. 
His friend only stipulated that there should be 
'« fish and vegetaJbles for the ndble bard ;" his 
lordship at that time being anti-earnxvorous in his 
eating. He came^ and we passed a very pleasant 
afternoon^ talking of books, and school, and of th^ 
friend and brother poet the late Bev. Mr. Bowles ; 
whose sonnets were among the early inspirations of 
Coleri<%e. 

Lord Byron, as the reader has seen, subsequently 
called on me in the prison several times. He used 
to bring books for the Story ofRimijdy which I wa9 
thea writing. He would not let the footman bring 
them in. He wouM enter with a couple of quartos 
imder his arm ; and give you to understand that he 
was prouder of being a friend and a man of letters, 
than a lord. It was thus that by flattering one^a 
vanity he persuaded us of his own freedom from it ; 
for he could see very well that I 1^ more value for 
k»rds than I supposed. 

In the correspondence wlnc^ closes the pres^ut 



LORD BT]feOK AKB MOOHE. 311 

Toltime, the reader will find some letters addressed 
to me at this period by Lord Byron. The noMe poet 
was a warm politician^ earnest in the cause of Eberty. 
His failure in the House of Lords is well known. 
He was very candid about It; said he was much 
frightened, and should never be able to do anything 
that way. Lords of all parties came about him, 
and consoled him. He particularly mentioned Lord 
Sidmouth, as being unexpectedly kind. 

It was very pleasant to see Lord Byron and 
Moore together. They harmonized admirably : 
tibough their knowledge of one another began in 
talking of a duel, in consequence of his lordship 
attacking the license of certain early verses. Moore's 
acquaintance with myself (as far as concerned cor- 
respondence by letter)^ originated in the mention of 
him in the Feast of the Poets. He subsequently 
wrote an opera, called the Blue Stocking^ respecting 
which he sent me a letter, at once deprecating and 
warranting objection to it. I was then editor of the 
Examiner; I did object to it, though with all acknow- 
ledgment of his genius. He came to see me, saying 
I was very much in the right ; and an intercourse 
took place, which was never Ostensibly interrupted 
tiH I thought myself aggrieved by his opposition to 
the periodical work proposed to me by his noble 
friend. I say ** thought myself aggrieved,** because 
I have long dbce acquitted him of any intention 



312 LIFE OP LEIGH HUNT, 

towards me, more hostile than that of zeal in behalf 
of what he supposed best for his lordship. He was 
desirous of preventing him from coming before the 
Tory critics imder a new and irritating aspect, at a 
time when it might be considered prudent to keep 
quiet, and propitiate objections already existing. 
The only thing which remained for me to complain 
of, was his not teUing me so frankly ; for this would 
have been a confidence which I deserved; and it 
would either have made me, of my own accord, 
object to the project at once, without the least hesi- 
tation, or, at all events, have been met by me with 
such a hearty sense of the plain dealing, and in so 
friendly a spirit of difference, that no ill-will, I 
think, could have remained on either side. Moore, 
at least, was of too generous a spirit for it ; and I 
was of too grateful a one. 

Unfortimately, this plan was not adopted by his 
lordship's friends ; and hence a series of bitter feel-, 
ings on both sides, which, as I was the first to ex- 
press them, so I did not hesitate to be the first to 
regret publicly, when on both sides they had tacitly 
been done away. 

Moore fancied, among other things, that I meant to 
pain him by speaking of his small stature ; and per- 
haps it was wrong to hazard a remark on so delicate 
a subject, however inoffensively meant ; especially as 
it led to other personal characteristics, which might 



MISTAKEN CONCLUSIONS OF MOORE'S. 313 

have seemed of less doubtful intention. But I felt 
only a painter's pleasure in taking the portrait ; and 
I flattered myself that, as far as externals went, I 
abundantly evinced my good-will, not only by doing 
justice to all that was handsome and poetical in his 
aspect, and by noticing the beauty reported of his 
childhood, but by the things which I said of the 
greatness observable in so many little men in his- 
tory, especially as recorded by Clarendon. In fact, 
this had been such a favourite subject with me, that 
some journalists concluded I must be short myself, 
which, I am bound to say, is not the case. Men of 
great action, I suspect, including the most heroical 
soldiers, have been for the most part of short stature, 
from the fabulous Tydeus, to Alexander and Age- 
silaus, and so downwards to Wellington and Napo- 
leon. Nor have sages and poets, or any kind of 
genius, been wanting to the list ; from the ancient 
philosopher who was obliged to carry lead in his 
pockets lest he should be blown away, down to 
Michael Angelo, and Montaigne, and Barrow, and 
Spenser himself, and the Falklands and Haleses of 
Clarendon, and Pope, and Steele, and Reynolds, and 
Mozart. 

Moore's forehead was bony and full of character, 
with *^ bumps " of wit, large and radiant enough 
to transport a phrenologist. Sterne had such an- 
other. His eyes were as dark and fine as you would 



dl4 life; of LEIGH HUXT. 

wish to see under a set of Tine-Ieayes ; his month 
generous and good-hnmoured, with dimples ; and his 
manner as bright as his talk, full of the wish to 
please and be pleased. He sang and placed with 
great taste on the pianoforte, as might be supposed 
from his musical compositions. His voice, which 
was a little hoarse in speaking (at least I used to 
think so), softened into a breath. Eke that of the 
flute, when smging. In speakmg, he was emphatio 
in rolling the letter r, perhaps out of a despair of 
being able to get rid of the national peculiarity. 
The structure of his versification, when I knew him, 
was more artificial than it was afterwards ; and in his 
serious compositions it suited him better. He had 
hardly faith enough to give way to his impulses in 
writing, except when they were festive and witty ; 
and artificial thoughts demand a similar embodi- 
ment. Both patriotism and personal experience, 
however, occasionally inspired him with lyric pathos j 
and in his naturally musical perception of the right 
principles of versification, he contemplated the fine, 
casy.playing, muscular style of Dryden, with a sort 
of perilous pleasures I remember his quoting with 
delight a couplet of Dryden's, which came with a 
particular grace out of his mouth r — 

" Let hononr and preferment go for gold ; 
But glorious toiuty is nH ta lie iold** 

Beside the pleasure I took in Moore's society 



moore's manners and opinions. . 315 

as a man of wit^ I had a great esteem for him as 
a man of candour and independence. His letters* 
were fuU of all that was pleasant in him. As I was 
a critic at that tim^ and in the habit of giving my 
opinion of his works in the Examiner^ he would 
write me his opinion of the opinion^ with a mix- 
ture of good-humour^ admi3sion5 and deprecation, 
so truly deKghtftil^ and a sincerity of criticism on 
my own writings so extraordhiary for so courteous a 
man, though with abundance of balm and eulogy, 
that nerer any subtlety of compliment could sur- 
pass it; and with all my self-confidence I never 
ceased to think that the honour was on my side, and 
that I could only deserve such candour of inter- 
course by being as ingenuous as Inmself. This ad- 
nriring regard for him he completed by his behaviour 
to an old patron of his, who, not thinking it politic 
to retain him openly by his side, proposed to facili- 
tate his acceptance of a place under the Tories ; an 
accommodation which Moore rejected as an indig- 
nity. I thought, afterwards, that a man of such 
a spirit should not have condescended to attack 
Kousseau and poor foolish Madame de Warens, 
out of a desire to right himself with polite life and 
with the memory of some thoughtless productions of 
his own. Polite Ufe was only too happy to possess 

* Some of them ave ghrcn at tbe end of ToL tlL 



316 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

him in his graver days; and the thoughtless pro- 
ductions, however to be regretted on reflection, were 
reconcilable to reflection itself on the same grounds 
on which Nature herself and all her exuberance is 
to be reconciled. At least, without presuming to 
judge nature in the abstract, an ultra-sensitive and 
enjoying poet is himself a production of nature ; and 
we may rest assured, that she will no more judge him 
with harshness ultimately, than she will condenm the 
excess of her own vines and fig-trees. 

I will now lay before the reader the letters which 
I had received from Lord Byron during the period 
of my first acquaintance with him. Other circum- 
stances originally called for their publication; but 
they are of a nature not to go counter to new feel- 
ings, or rather to the renewal of the oldest and best ; 
and they furnish also, I think, the most appropriate 
introduction to the resumption of my intercourse 
with his lordship. 

LETTER L 
[^Lord Byr&fis Domestic Affairs and Friendships.'] 

4, Bennet-street, Dec. 2nd, 1813. 
My deab Sib, — ^Few things could be more welcome than your 
note ; and on Saturday morning I will avail myself of your 
permission to thank you for it in person. My time has not 
been passed, since we met, either profitably or agreeably. A 
very short period after my last visit, an incident occurred 
with which, I fear, you are not unacquainted, as report in 



LETTERS OF LORD BYRON. 317 

many mouths and more than one paper was busy with the 
topic. That naturally gave me much uneasiness. Then, I 
nearly incurred a lawsuit on the sale of an estate ; but that is 
now arranged : next — but why should I go on with a series of 
selfish and silly details ? I merely wish to assure you, that it 
was not the frivolous forgetfulness of a mind occupied by what 
is called pleasure (not in the true sense of Epicurus) that kept 
me away ; but a perception of my then unfitness to share the 
society of those whom I value and wish not to displease. I hate 
being larmoyanty and making a serious face among those who 
are cheerful. 

It is my wish that our acquaintance, or, if you please to 
accept it, friendship, may be permanent. I have been lucky 
enough to preserve some friends from a very early period, and 
I hope, as I do not (at least now) select them lightly, I shall 
not lose them capriciously. I have a thorough esteem for that 
independence of spirit which you have maintained with sterling 
talent, and at the expense of some suffering. You have not, I 
trust, abandoned the poem you were composing when Moore 
and I partook of your hospitality in the summer ? I hope a 
time will come, when he and I may be able to repay you in kind 
for the latter ; — for the rhyme, at least in quantity^ you are in 
arrear to both. 

Believe me very truly and affectionately yours, 

Btbok. 



LETTER n. 

[Debts of the Regent — Mrs, Leigh — Mr. Brougham-^ 

Mr, Moore."] 

Dec. 22nd, 1813. 

My deab Sir, — ^I am, indeed, " in your debt," — and, what is 
still worse, am obliged to follow royal example (he has just 



318 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

apprised his creditos that tbey must wait till the meeting), and 
entreat your indulgence for, I hoigte, a veiy short time. The 
nearest relation, and almost tlM only friend I possess, has been 
in Londcm for a week, and leaves it to-morrow with me for her 
own residence. — ^I return immediately ; bat we meet so seldom, 
and are so minuied when we meet at mil, that I give up all 
engagements till notr, without reluctance. On my return, I 
must see you to console myself for my past disappointments. I 
should feel highly honoured in Mr. B— — -'s* permission to 
make his acquaintance, and there you are in my debt — for it is a 
promise of last summer which I still hope to see performed. 
Yesterday I had a letter from Moore:— you have probably 
heard from him lately ; but if not, y^u will be glad to learn 
that he is the same in heart, head, and health. 



LETTER m. 

INotes to the Feast of the Poets— //«/««» School of Poetry 
— Attacks on Lord Byron m the Newspapers, 

Feb. 9th, 1814. 
Mt beak Sib, — I have been snow-bound and thaw-swamped 
(two compound epithets for you) in the " valley of the shadow" 
of Newstead Abbey for nearly a month, and have not been four 
hours returned to London. Nearly the first use I make of my 
benimibed fingers, is to thank you for your very handsome note 
in the volume you have just put forth ; only, I trust, to be 
followed by others on subjects more worthy your notice than 
the works of contemporaries. Of myself, you speak only too 



* The aoMe poet and Lord Brougham not kmg afterwards met in 
my rooms, and seemed mutually pleased. 



LETTEBS OF LOED BTRON. 319 

highly — ^and you must thiok me stwagelj spoiled, or perversely 
peevish j eveii to Buspect that any remarl» of yours, in the spirit 
of candid criticism, could possM;)ly prove u&palatable. Had they 
been harsh, instead of being written as they are in the indelible 
ink of good sense and frieiklly admiration — had they been the 
harshest— as I knew and know that you are above any personal 
bias, at least against your fellow-bards — believe me, they would 
not have caused a word of Remonstrance, nor a moment (^ rank- 
ling on my part. Your poem* I redde^ long ago in the Reflector^ 
and it is not much to say it is the best *' Session^ we have — ^and 
with a more difficult subject— for we are neither so good nor so 
bad (taking the best and worst) as the wits of the olden 
time. 

To your smaller pieces I have not yet had time to do justice 
by perusal — and I have a quantity of unanswered, and, I hope, 
unanswerable letters to wade through, before I sleep ; but to- 
morrow will see me through your volume. I am glad to see 
you have tracked Gray among the Italians. You will, perhaps, 
find a friend or two of yours there also, though not to the same 
extent ; but I have always thought the Italians the onlj/ poetical 
modems : — our Miltcm, and Spenser, and Shakspeare (the last 
through translations of their tales), are very Tuscan, and 
surely it is far superior to the French school. * * * 
Murray has, I hope, sent you my last bantling. The Corsair. 
I have been regaled at every inn on the road by lampoons and 
other merry conceits on myself in the ministerial gazettes, 
occasioned by the republication of two stanzas inserted in 1812, 
in Perry's paper.J The hysterics of the Morning Post are 
quite interesting ; and I hear (but have not seen) of something 



* The Feast of the Poets. f Sic in MS. 

X Morning Chronicle. 



320 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

terrific in a last week's Courtier— all which I take with "the 
calm indifference" of Sir Fretftil Plagiary. The Morning Post 
has one copy of devices upon my deformity, which certainly 
will admit of no '* historic douhts,** like "Dickon my master's" 
—another upon my Atheism, which is not quite so dear — and 
another, very downrightly, says I am the devil (hoiteux they 
might have added), and a rehel and what not :— possihly my 
accuser of diabolism may be Rosa Matilda ; and if so, it would 
not be difficult to convince her I am a mere man. I shall break 
in upon you in a day or two — distance has hitherto detained 
me ; and I hope to find you well and myself welcome. 

Ever your obliged and sincere, 

Btbon. 

F.S. — Since this letter was written, I have been at your text, 
which has much good humour in every sense of the word. 
Your notes are of a veiy high order indeed, particularly on 
Wordsworth. 



LETTER IV. 
[Lord Bf/ron's approaching Marriage."] 

October 15th, 1814. 
Mt deab Hunt, — I send you some game, of which I beg 
your acceptance. I specify the quantity as a security against 
the porter; a hare, a pheasant, and two brace of partridges, 
which, I hope, are fresh. My stay in town has not been long, 
and I am in all the agonies of quitting it again next week on 
business, preparatory to " a change of condition,*' as it is called 
by the talkers on such matters. I am about to be married : and 
am, of course, in all the misery of a man in pursuit of happi- 
ness. My intended is two hundred miles off; and the efforts I 
am making vrith lawyers, &c. &c. to join my future connections. 



LETTERS OP LORD BTRON. 321 

attfe, fbr a persondge bf my single and btvetertiXe h&hits^ia day 
nothing of inddlence— <jidte ptddigious ! 1 sfacfeWly Iropef yotb 
are better tlian your paper intimated lately; and that yonr 
approaching freedoat wiH find you in fall health to ei^'^oy it. 

Yours, ever, 

Vrsbir. 



»I1HI 



LETTER T. 

^Drury Lane Theatre — Parisian Correspondence — Lady Byron 
— 7*he Descent of Liberty — Lara.] 

13, PiccadUly-temicey May-^-Juae Xst^ l&15k 
Mt bsak HuKTy— I am as glad to hear &om, as I shall be to 
see you« We came to town, what is called kte in the seasoaf 
and since that time, the death of Lady Byrcm's uncle (in the 
first place), and her own delicate state of health,.ha¥e prevented 
either of us from going out much \ however, she is how betteri 
and in a fair way of going credibly through the whole px)Gesa 
of beginning a fiunHy^ 

I have the alternate weeks of a private box at Drury Lane 
Theatre : this is my week, and I send you an admission ta it 
for Kean's nights, Friday and Saturday next, in case you should 
like to see him quietly : — ^it is dose to the stage — ^the entrance 
by the private box-door— and you can go without the bore of 
crowding, jostling, or dressing. I also inclose you a parcel of 
recent letters from Paris f perhaps you may find some extracts 
that may amuse yourself or your readers, I have only to beg 
you will prevent your copyist, or printer, itom. mixing up any 
of the English mimes, or private matter contained therein, 
which might lead to a discovery of the writer ; and, as the 
Examiner is sure to travel back to fans, might get him into a 
scrape, to say nothing of h& correspondent at home. At any 

VOL. III. Y 



322 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

rate, I hope and think the perusal will amnse you. Whenever 
you come this way, I shall be happy to make you acquainted 
with Lady Byron, whom you will find anything but a fine 
lady — a species of animal which you probably do not affect more 
than myself. Thanks for the Mask ; — ^there is not only poetry 
and thought in the body, but much research and good old 
reading in your prefatory matter. I hope you have not given 
up your narrative poem, of which I heard you speak as in 
progress. It rejoices me to hear of the well doing and rege- 
neration of the Feasty setting aside my own selfish reasons for 
wishing it success. I fear you stand almost single in your 
liking of Lara : it is natural that / should, as being my last 
and most unpopular effervescence : — passing by its other sins, 
it is too little narrative, and too metaphysical to please the 
greater number of readers. I have, however, much con- 
solation in the exception with which you furnish me. From 
Moore I have not heard very lately. I fear he is a little 
humorous, because I am a lazy correspondent ; but that shall 

be mended. 

Ever your obliged and very sincere friend, 

Btbok. 

P.S.—" Politics I" The barking of the war-dogs for their 
carrion has sickened me of them for the present. 



LETTER VI. 

\Twopmny Post-^Lord Byron* s opinion of TFordstPortk.'] 

13, Terrace, Piccadilly, Oct. 7th, 1815. 
Mt dbab Hunt, — I had written a long answer to your last, 
which I put into the fire ; partly, because it was a repetition of 
what I have already said — and next, because I considered what 



LETTERS OP LORD BYRON. 323 

my opinions are worth, before I made you pay double postage, 
as your proximity lays you within the jaws of the tremendous 
"Twopenny," and beyond the verge of franking — the only 
parliamentary privilege (saving one other) of much avail in 
these " costermonger days.*' 

Fray don't make me an exception to the "Long live King Rich- 
ard" of your bards in the Fectst, I do allow him to be "prince 
of the bards of his time," upon the judgment of those who must 
judge more impartially than I probably do. I acknowledge 
him as I acknowledge the Houses of Hanover and Bourbon— 
the — not the " one-eyed monarch of the blind," but the blind 
monarch of the one-eyed. I merely take the liberty of a free 
subject to vituperate certain of his edicts — ^and that only in 
private. 

I shall be very glad to see you, or your remaining canto ; if 
both together, so much the better. 

I am interrupted 



LETTER VIL 

[" English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.."] 

Oct. 16th, 1815. 
Dear Hunt, — ^I send you a thing whose greatest value is 
its present rarity ;* the present copy contains some manuscript 
corrections previous to an edition which was printed, but not 
published ; and in short, all that is in the suppressed edition, 
the fifth, except twenty lines in addition, for which there was 
not room in the copy before me. There are in it many opi- 
nions I have altered, and some which I retain ; upon the whole, 
I wish that it had never been written, though my sending you 

* A copy of English Bards and Scotch Bemewers. 



S24 LIF£ OP LEIGH HUKT. 

this copy (the only one fai my possession, tmless one of Lady 
B.'s be ezeepted) may seem at varianee witli iHtaa statement :-^ 
but my reason for this Is very different : it is, boirerer, the 
only ffft I bare made of the kind this many a day.* 

F.S.— You probably know that it is not in print for sale, nor 
ever will be (If I ean help it) again. 



LETTER Vm. 

IThe Story of Rimini—JTifWory of English Bards and Scotch 
Reviewers—- ZoTf/ and Lady HoUandJ] 

Oct. 22, 1815. 
Mt osab Hurt, — You have excelled yourself— if not all 
your cotemporaries, in the canto f which I have just finished. 
I think it above the former books ; but that is as it should be ; 
it rises with the subject, the conception appears to me perfect, 
and the execution perhaps as nearly so as verse will admit. 
There is more originality than I reeoUect to have seen else- 
where within the same compass, and frequent and great happi- 
ness of expression. In short, I must turn to the faults, or 
what appear such to me : these are not many, nor such as may 
not be easily altered^ being almost aU verbal /'—and of the same 
kind aa I pretended to point out in the former cantos^ via^ 
ooeasbnal quauitnesB and obscority, and a kind of a harsh and 
yet eolloqaial ecmipounding of epithets, as if to avoid saying 
oommoQ things in the conHOon way f diffidk est proprii eom- 



* The absence of the signature to this letter, as to others, is owing 
to my having giren it away. Letters have been given away abo, or 
I should haye had more for the reader's amusement. 

t One of the eastos of ^ story of Mhnhd,'^! beHave, tlie third. 



LETTERS OF LOBP BTRON. 325 

munia dk^e, seems ^ tiines to have met with in you a literal 
translator* I have made a few, and l^i a few, pencil marks on 
the MS., which ypu ean follow or not, aa you please. 

The poem, as a whole, will give yon a rery high station ; bnt 
where is the cooclusion ? Don't let it cool in the composition ! 
You can always delay as long aa you like revising, though I 
am not sure, in the very face of Horace, that the *^ nonum,- * 
&c., is attended with advantage, unless we read '' months" for 
'' years.** I am glad the book sent * reached you. I forgot to 
tell you the story of its suppression, which sha*n't be longer 
than I can make it. My motive for writing that poem was, I 
fear, not so fair as you are willing to believe it ; I was angry, 
and determined to be witty, and, fighting in a crowd, dealt 
about my blows against all alike, without distinction or discern- 
ment. When I came home from the east, among other new 
acquaintances and friends, politics and the state of the Notting- 
ham rioters — (of which county I am a land-holder, and Lord 
Holland recorder of the town)--led me by the good offices of 
Mr. Rogers into the society of Lord Holland, who, ¥rith Lady 
Holland, was particularly kind to me: about March 1812, 
this introduction took place, when I made my first speech on 
the Frame Bill, in the same debate in which Lord Holland 
spoke. Soon after this, I was correcting the fifth edition of 
E* B. for the press, when Rogers represented to me ths^ he 
knew Lord and Lady Holland would not be sorry if I sup- 
pressed any further publication of that poem; and I imme- 
diately acquiesced, aud with great pleasure, for X had attacked 
them upon a fancied and &lse provocation, with many others ; 
and neither was, nor am sorry, to have done what I could to 
stifle that ferocious rhapsody. This wa« subsequent to mj 



* EpgHit^ ^ftrds, &c. 



326 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

aoquaintanoe with Lord Holland, and was neither expressed 
nor understood as a condition of that acquaintance. Rogers 
told me, he thought I ought to suppress it ; I thought so, too, 
and did it as far as I could, and that's all. I sent you my 
copy, because I consider your having it much the same as 
having it myself. Lady Byron has one ; I desire not to have 
any other; and sent it only as a curiosity and a memento. 



LETTER IX. 

{^Subject of Wordsworth resumed^ His Mistakes about Greece 
— Pope's Simile of the Moon from Homer — Morbid Feelings 
'•^Drury Lane Theatre — Story of Rimini.] 

13, Terrace, Piccadaiy, Sept.— Oct.* 30th, 1815. 

Mt dbab Hunt, — Many thanks for your books, of which 
you already know my opinion. Their external splendour 
should not disturb you as inappropriate — they have still more 
yrithin than without. 

I take leave to differ from you on Wordsworth, as freely as 
I once agreed with you ; at that time I gave him credit for a 
promise, which is unAilfilled. I still think his capacity warrants 
all you say of it only — but that his performances since Lyrical 
Ballads, are miserably inadequate to the ability which lurks 
within him: there is undoubtedly much natural talent spilt 
over the Excursion ; but it is rain upon rocks — where it stands 
and stagnates, or rain upon sands — where it falls vdthout fer- 
tilizing. Who can understand him ? Let those who do, make 
him intelligible. Jacob Behmen, Swedenborg, and Joanna 

• Sic in MS. 



LETTERS or LORD BYRON. 327 

Southcote, are mere types of tliis arch-apostle of mystery and 
mysticism ; but I have done — no, I have not done, for I have 
two petty, and perhaps unworthy objections in small matters to 
make to him, which, with his pretensions to accurate observation, 
and fury against Pope^s false translation of the " Moonlight 
scene in Homer,** I wonder he should have fallen into : — these 
be they ;— He says of Greece in the body of his book — ^that it 
is a land of 

" Bivers, fertile plains, and mounding shores, 
Under a cope of variegated sky." 

The rivers are dry half the year, the phtins are barren, and the 
shores still and tideless as the Mediterranean can make them ; 
the sky is anything but variegated, being for months and 
months but " darkly, deeply, beautifiilly blue." — The next is 
in his notes, where he talks of our ** Monuments crowded 
together in the busy, &c. of a large town," as compared with 
the *' still seclusion of a Turkish cemetery in some remote 
place.** This is pure stuff: for one monument in our church- 
yards there are ten in the Turkish, and so crowded, that you 
cannot walk between them ; they are always close to the walls 
of the towns, that is, merely divided by a path or road; and as 
to '^ remote places,** men never take the trouble, in a barbarous 
country, to carry their dead very far ; they must have lived 
near to where they are buried. There are no cemeteries in 
^' remote places,** except such as have the cypress and the tomb- 
stone still left, where the olive and the habitation of the living 
have perished. ♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

These things I was struck with, as coming peculiarly in my 
own way ; and in both of these he is wrong ; yet I should have 
noticed neither but for his attack on Pope for a like blunder, 
and a peevish affectation about him, of despising a popularity 
which he will never obtain. I write in great haste, and, I 



328 UFS OF hmtm hunt* 

doubt, not mnch to the parpoee ; liut jou li^« i^ hot and hoi, 
just 9fi it comei^ and so let it jgo. 

By the ^raj, both he and you |^ too fkr i^gUBst Pope's ^9^ 
when the moon,** &c. ; it is no traoskljon, I know ; hut i^ m 
not such fidae descriptioa as asserted* X have read it on the 
jBpot : tbece is a hunt, and a lightness, and a glow about the 
night in the Xroad, which makes the ^planets viyid,** and the 
'< pole glowing :** the moon is~at least the sky, is clearness 
itself; and I know no more appropriate expression for the 
expansion of such a heayen— o'er the scene — ^the plain — the 
sea — the sky — ^Ida — the Hellespont — Simois — Scamander — and 
the Isles, — ^than that of a '* flood of glory.*' I am getting hor- 
ribly lengthy, and must stop : to the whole of your letter I say 
^ ditto to Mr. Burke,** as the Bristol candidate cried by way of 
electioneering harangue. You need not speak of morbid feelings 
and vexations to me ; I have plenty ; for which I must blame 
partly the times, and chiefly myself: but let us forget them. / 
shall be very apt to do so when I see you next. Will you come 
to the theatre and see our new management P You shall cut it 
up to your heart's content, root and branch, afterwards, if you 
like ; but come and see it I If not, I must come and see you. 

Ever yours, very truly and affectionately, 

Btson. 

F. B.^Not a word from Moore for these two months. "Prvf 
let me have the rest of Rimini, Xou have two excellent points 
in that poem-*<'Originality and Itahanismt I will back you as 
a bard against half the fellows on whom you hfl^e throwqt 
away much good critieMon and eulogy; bi;^ don't let yoor 
hooksell^ pubjiish in qiu/rto / it is the wonst fiuse ppssihle ^ 
Gjuxulaition* I say this on bibUcq^lical ai^hoiiity^ 

4«mi ypui9 eveci 

Br 



V 

L]@7T¥»S OF hOWi BTBON. 329 



LBTTEB X. 

[Stoiy of JKuQini — Murray — House of Lords — Lord Byron 9 

Politics. 

January 29Qi, lgl6. 

Dear Htjnt, — ^I return your extract with thanks for the 
perusal, and hope you are bj this tbne on the Terge of pub- 
fication. MjpeneSl-markson the mar^ of your former MSS. 
I never thought worth the trouble of deeyphering, but I had 
no such meaning aa you imagine for their being withheld from 
Murray, from whom I differ entirely as to the terms of your 
agreement ; nor do I think you* asked a piastre too much for 
the poem. However, I doubt not he will deal fairly by you on 
the whole : he is really a vesry good fellow, and his faults are 
merely the leaven of his "trade** — "the trade!" the slave- 
trade of many an unlucky writer. 

The said Murray and I are just at present in no good humour 
with each other; but he is not the worse for that. I feel sure 
that he will give your work as fair or a fairer chance in every 
way than your late publishers; and what he can*t do for it, it 
will do for itself. 

Continual laziness and occasional indisposition have been the 
causes of my negligence (for I deny neglect) in not writing to 
you immediately. These are excuses : I wish they may be more 
satisfactory to you than they are to me« I opened my eyes 
yesterday morning on your compliment of Sunday. If you 
knew what a hopeless and lethargic den of dulness and drawling 
our hospital is* during a debate, and what a luass of corruption 
in its patients, you would wonder, not that I very seldom speak, 
but that I ever attempted it, feeling, as I trust I do, indepen- 

* The Hoxm of ]/>rds. 



I 
f 



330 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

dently. However, when a proper spirit is manifested " without 

doors," I will endeavour not to be idle within. Do you think 

such a time is coming ? Methinks there are gleams of it. My 

forefathers were of the other side of the question in Charleses 

days, and the fruit of it was a title and the loss of an enormous 

property. 

If the old struggle comes on, I may lose the one, and shall 

never regain the other; but no matter; there are things^ even 

in this world, better than either. 

Very truly, ever yours, 

B. 



LETTER XL 

[_Domestic Affairs. — Dedication of the Story of Hiaaini. — 

PamphletsJ] 

Feb. 26th, 1816. 

Dear Hunt, — Your letter would have been answered before, 

« 

had I not thought it probable that, as you were in town for a 
day or so, I should have seen you. I don*t mean this as a hint 
at reproach for not callmg, but merely that of course I should 
have been very glad if you had called in your way home or 
abroad, as I always would have been, and always shall be.* 
With regard to the circumstance to which you allude, there is 
no reason why you should not speak openly to me on a subject 
already sufficiently rife in the mouths and minds of what is 
called " the world." Of the " fifty reports," it follows that 
forty-nine must have more or less error and exaggeration ; but 
I am sorry to say, that on the main and essential point of an 

* I was never in town "for a day or two;" — ^never for a longer 
time than I could help. I was too ill. 



I 



LETTERS OP LORD BYRON. 331 

intended, and, it may be, an inevitable separation, I can contra- 
dict none. At present I shall say no more — but this is not from 
want of confidence ; in the mean time, I shall merely request a 
suspension of opinion. Your prefatory letter to Rimini, I ac- 
cepted as it was meant — as a public compliment and a private 
kindness. I am only sorry that it may, perhaps, operate 
against you as an inducement, and, with some, a pretext, for 
attack on the part of the political and personal enemies of 
both : — ^not that this can be of much consequence, for in the end 
the work must be judged by its merits, and in that respect 
you are well armed. Murray tells me it is going on well, 
and, you may depend upon it, there is a substratum of 
poetry, which is a foundation for solid and durable fame. 
The objections (if there be objections, for this is a ;t?resump- 
tion, and not an assumption) will be merely as to the me- 
chanical part, and such, as I stated before, the usual conse- 
quence of either novelty or revival. I desired Murray to 
forward to you a pamphlet with two things of mine in it, the 
most part of both of them, and of one in particular, written 
before others of my composing, which have preceded them in 
publication ; they are neither of them of much pretension, nor 
intended for it. You will, perhaps, wonder at my dwelling so 
much and so frequently on former subjects and scenes ; but the 
fact is, that I found them fading fast from my memory ; and I 
was, at the same time, so partial to their place (and events con- 
nected with it), that I have stamped them, while I could, in 
such colours as I could trust to now, but might have con- 
fused and misapplied hereafter, had I longer delayed the 
attempted delineation.* 



* I forget what these pamphlets were. In all probability, some of 
the poems connected with Greece and the Levant. 



332 IdVE OF LEIGH HUlfT. 



LETTEB XIL 

l^Drury Lane Theatre,^ 

March 14th, 1816. 

Dbab Hukt, — I send you six orchestra tickets for Drury 

Lane, countersigned by me, which makes the admission free — 

which I explain, that the door-keeper may not impose upon 

you ; they are for the best place in the house, but can only be 

used one at a time. I have left the dates unfilled, and you can 

take your own nights, which I should suppose would be Kean's : 

the seat is in the orchestra. I have inserted the name of Mr. 

H ,* a friend of yours, in case you like to transfer to him 

— do not forget to fill up the dates for such days as you choose 

to select. 

Yours, ever truly, 

Btbok. 



FRAGMENTS OF LETTERS, 
The rest of which has been mutilated or lost, 

Fkagment I. 

[Story of Rimini — Sir Henri/ Englejield—ifrs. Leigh and the 
present Lord Byron — Hookham Frere^l 

r^^'^-^ good of Rimini-^Sk Henry Englefield, a mighty man 
la the blue circles, and a veiry clever man anywhere, sent to 
Mumy, in terms of tHe highest eulogy ; uid with regard to the 
common reader, my sister and cousin (who are now all my 
family, and the last since gone away to be married) were in 

* I think this was HazUtt 



LETTTElKlS OF L0R1> BTROK. 333 

fixed perufiat imd delight mth it, and they ore " ziot etitiefil,''' 
but fair, natural, unaffected, and understanding petsons. 

Frere, and all tbe areh-Iiterati, I ixear, are also unanimous 
in a high opinion of the poem. " I hear this by the wa7--^biif 
I will send." 



Fragment H. 

[Enghsh Batd» and Scotch Betiewers^^^ifiHE&'ff an MMoHtm 

-^Diseases of Poets.'] 

With regard to the £• ^. I have m> conceahnents, not deite 
to have any, from you or yours : the suppression occarred (I 
am as sure as I can be of anything) in the mannef stated : t 
have never regretted that, but very often the composition — 
that is the humeur of a great deal in it. As to the quotation 
you aUttde to, I have no right, nor indeed desire, to prevent it ; 
but, oaa the contrary, m common with all othef writers, I do 
and ought to lake it as a compliment. 

The paper on the Methodistsf was evtte to raise the bristles of 
the godly. I redde it, and agree with the writer on one point 
in which you and he perhaps differ ; that an addiction to poetry 
is very generally the result of *^ an uneasy mind in an uneasy 
body ;'* disease or deformity have been the attendants of many 
of our best. Collins mad — Chatterton, / think, mad — Cowper 
mad — Pope crooked—Milton blind— Gray (I have heard that 
the last was afflicted by an incurable and very grevious distem- 
per, though not generally known) — and others . I have 

somewhere redde^ however, that poets rarely go mad. I suppose 



* By Hazlitt, in the Eound Table; which was first published in 
the Examiner. 



334 LIFE OF LEIGH HUNT. 

the writer means that their insanity effervesces and evaporates 

in verse— may be so.* 

I have not had time nor paper to attack your system, which 

ought to be done, were it only because it is a system. So, by* 

and-by, have at you. 

Yours, ever, 

Btson. 



* I know not who the writer was that is here alluded to ; perhaps 
myself, probably Hazlitt, or one of many others ; for I suspect the 
remark to have been as often made as it seems well-founded. 
Genius may require some delicacies of organization to refine the 
natural faculty ; but if it were a disease, it should be oftener found 
to accompany disease. Hospitals, indeed, ought to be its nur- 
sery-beds, and odes and elegies traceable to fever and jaundice. 
A pleasant corresponding list might be drawn up on such an 
assumption. Madness in men of genius must originate in causes 
common to their fellow-creatures, — otherwise, the greater the genius 
the greater would be the mental aberration ; which has never yet 
been found to be the case. Hazlitt observed, that the most me- 
chanical understandings were more liable to such a calamity than 
others, because they are less accustomed to the regions of wonder and 
emotion, and therefore can make less allowance for the surprises they 
meet there. 



END OF VOL. II. 



London :— Printed by Stewabt and Muerat, Old Bailey. 



Preparing for Publication^ 



m ONE VOLUME, 



TABLE TALK, 



BT 



LEIGH HUNT. 



LONDON: 
SMITH, ELDER AND CO., 65, CORNHILL. 



cT- 



I. 



20