LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of Writers
Leigh Hunt

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX
John Keats
Charles Lamb
Mary Lamb
‣ Leigh Hunt
Douglas Jerrold
Charles Dickens
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We have said that Leigh Hunt’s conversation even surpassed his writing, and that his mode of telling a story in speech was still better than his mode of narrating it with his pen. His letters and friendly notes have something of both his conversation and his style of composition—they are easy, spirited, genial, and most kindly. To receive a letter from him was a pleasure that rendered the day brighter and cheerier; that seemed to touch London smoke with a golden gleam; that made prosaic surroundings take a poetical form; that caused common occurrences to assume a grace of romance and refinement, as the seal was broken and the contents were perused. The very sight of his well-known handwriting, with its delicate characters of elegant and upright slenderness, sent the spirits on tip-toe with expectation at what was in store.

At intervals, through a long course of years, it was our good fortune to be the receivers of such letters and notes, a selection from which we place before our readers, that they may guess at our delight when the originals reached us. Inasmuch as many of them are undated, it has been difficult to assign each its particular period; and therefore we give them not exactly in chronological order; though as nearly according to the sequence of time in
which they were probably written and received as may be. The first five belong to the commencement of the acquaintance between
Leigh Hunt and C. C. C., and to the “Dear Sir” stage of addressing each other; yet are quite in the writer’s charming cordiality of tone, and make allusion in his own graceful manner to the basket of fresh flowers, fruit, and vegetables sent weekly from the garden at Enfield:—

To Mr. C. C. Clarke.
Surrey Jail, Tuesday, July 13th, 1813.

Dear Sir,—I shall be truly happy to see yourself and your friend to dinner next Thursday, and can answer for the mutton, if not for the “cordials” of which you speak. However, when you and I are together there can be no want, I trust, of cordial hearts, and those are much better. Remember, we dine at three! Mrs. Hunt begs her respects, but will hear of no introduction, as she has reckoned you an old acquaintance ever since you made your appearance before us by proxy in a basket.—Very sincerely yours,

Leigh Hunt.
To C. C. C.
Surrey Jail, January 5th, 1814.

Dear Sir,—. . . . The last time I saw your friend P., he put into my hands a letter he had received from your father at the time of our going to prison—a letter full of kindness and cordiality. Pray will you give my respects to Mr. Clarke, and tell him that had I been aware of his good wishes towards my brother and myself, I should have been anxious to say so before this; but I know the differences of opinion that sometimes exist in families, and something like a feeling to that effect kept me silent. I should quarrel with this rogue P. about it if, in the first place, I could afford to quarrel with anybody, and if I did not believe him to be one of the best-natured men in the world.

Should your father be coming this way, I hope he will do me the pleasure of looking in. I should have sent to your-
self some weeks ago, or at least before this, to come and see how we enjoy your vegetables, only I was afraid that, like most people at this season of the year, you might be involved in a round of family engagements with aunts, cousins, and second cousins, and all the list at the end of the Prayer-book. As soon as you can snatch a little leisure, pray let us see you. You know our dinner-hour, and can hardly have to learn, at this time of day, how sincerely I am, my dear sir, your friend and servant,

Leigh Hunt.
To C. C. C., Enfield.
Surrey Jail, May 17th, 1814.

My dear Sir,—. . . . I am much obliged to Mr. Holt White for his communication. Your new-laid eggs were exceedingly welcome to me at the time they came, as I had just then begun once more to try an egg every morning; but I have been obliged to give it up. Perhaps I shall please you by telling you that I am writing a Mask1 in allusion to the late events. It will go to press, I hope, in the course of next week, and this must be one of my excuses both for having delayed the letter before me, and for now abruptly concluding it. I shall beg the favour of your accepting a copy when it comes out, as I should have done with my last little publication,2 except for a resolution to which some of my most intimate friends had come for a particular reason, and which induced me to regard you as one of those to whom I could pay the compliment of not sending a copy. This reason is now no longer in force, and therefore you will oblige me by waiting to hear from myself instead of your bookseller.—Yours, my dear sir, most sincerely,

Leigh Hunt.
To C. C. C.
Surrey Jail, November 2nd, 1814.

My dear Sir,—I hope you have not been accusing your friends Ollier and Robertson of forgetting you—or, at least, thinking so—for all the fault is at my own door. The truth is, that when I received your request relative to the songs of

1The Descent of Liberty.” 2The Feast of the Poets.”

Mozart, I had resolved to answer it myself, and did not say a word on the subject to either one or the other; so that I am afraid I have been hindering two good things—your own enjoyment of the songs, and an opportunity on the part of Messrs. O. and R. of showing you that they were readier correspondents than myself. After all, perhaps a little of the fault is attributable to yourself, for how can you expect a man rolling in hebdomadal luxuries—pears, apples, and pig—should think of anything? By the way, now I am speaking of luxuries, let me thank you for your very acceptable present of apples to my brother John. If you had ransacked the garden of the Hesperides, you could not have made him, I am sure, a more welcome one. I believe his notion of the highest point of the sensual in eating is an apple, hard, juicy, and fresh. . . . . The printers have got about half through with my Mask. You will be pleased to hear that I have been better for some days than ever I have felt during my imprisonment—and in spite too of rains and east winds.

To C. C. C., Enfield.
Vale of Health, Hampstead, Tuesday, Nov. 7th, 1815.

My dear Sir,—You have left a picture for me, I understand, at Paddington, where the rogues are savagely withholding it from me. I shall have it, I suppose, in the course of the day, and conjecture it to be some poet’s or politician’s head that you have picked up in turning over some old engravings. I beg you to laugh very heartily, by the bye, if I am anticipating a present, where there is none. I am apt, from old remembrances, to fall into this extravagance respecting the Enfield quarter, and do it with the less scruple, inasmuch as you are obliging enough to consult my taste in this particular—which is, small gifts from large hearts. I am glad, however, in the present instance that I have been made to wait a little, since it enables me, for once, to be beforehand with you, and I can at least send you your long-promised books. The binder, notwithstanding my particular injunctions, and not having seen, I suppose, the colour of the fields lately enough to remember it, has made the
covers red instead of green. You must fancy the books are blushing for having been so long before they came.—Yours most sincerely,

Leigh Hunt.

The books here referred to were “The Descent of Liberty” and “The Feast of the Poets, with other pieces in verse.” The binder to whom I (C. C. C.) subsequently entrusted the task of putting Leigh Hunt’s volume of poems entitled “Foliage” into an appropriately coloured cover of green played me a similar trick to the one above recorded, by sending the book home encased in bright blue!

The next letter alludes to John Keats, by the playful appellation that Leigh Hunt gave him of “Junkets,” and commences by a pleasanter and more familiar form of address to C. C. C. than the previously used “Dear Sir:”—

To C. C. C.
Maida Hill, Paddington, July 1st, 1817.

My dear Friend,— . . . . I saw Mr. Hazlitt here last night, and he apologizes to me, as I doubt not he will to you, for having delayed till he cannot send it [the opera-ticket] at all. You shall have it without fail if you send for it to the office on Thursday, though with still greater pleasure if you come and fetch it yourself in the meantime. You shall read “Hero and Leander” with me, and riot also in a translation or two from Theocritus, which are, or ought to be, all that is fine, floral, and fruity, and any other f that you can find to furnish out a finished festivity. But you have not left off your lectures, I trust, on punctuality. Pray do not, for I am very willing to take, and even to profit by them; and ecce signum! I answer your letter by return of post. You began this reformation in me; my friend Shelley followed it up nobly; and you must know that friendship can do just as much with me as enmity can do little. What has become of Junkets I know not. I suppose Queen Mab has eaten him. . . .
I came to town last Wednesday, spent Saturday evening with
Henry Robertson, who has been unwell, and supped yesterday with Novello. Harry tells me that there is news of the arrival of Havell; and so we are conspiring to get all together again, and have one of our old evenings, joco-serio-musico-pictorio-poetical.—Most sincerely yours,

Leigh Hunt.

The next three letters bear date in the same year. “Ave Maria” and “Salve Regina” were names sportively given by Leigh Hunt to Mrs. Vincent Novello and her sister, in reference to their being dear to a composer of Catholic Motets. “Marlowe” was where Percy Bysshe Shelley then resided, and where Leigh Hunt and his family were then staying on a summer visit with his poet friend. The jest involved in the repeated recurrence to “Booth” is now forgotten:—

To Vincent Novello, 240, Oxford Street.
Hampstead, April 9th, 1817.

My dear Novello,—Pray pardon—in the midst of our hurry—this delay in answering your note. My vanity had already told me that you would not have stayed away on Wednesday for nothing; but I was sorry to find the cause was so painful a one. I believe you take exercise; but are you sure that you always take enough, and stout enough? All arts that involve sedentary enjoyment are great affecters of the stomach and causers of indigestion; and I have a right to hint a little advice on the occasion, having been a great sufferer as well as sinner on the score myself. If you do not need it, you must pardon my impertinence. We set off at eleven to-morrow morning, and are in all the chaos of packed trunks, lumber, litter, dust, dirty dry fingers, &c. But Booth is still true to the fair, so my service to them, both Ave Maria and Salve Regina. The ladies join with me in these devoirs, and so does Mr. Keats, as in poetry bound. Ever my dear Novello most heartily yours,

Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—I will write to you from the country.

To Vincent Novello.
Marlowe, April 17th, 1817.

My dear Novello,—One of Mr. Shelley’s great objects is to have a pianoforte as quickly as possible, so that though he cannot alter his ultimatum with regard to a grand one, he wishes me to say that, if Mr. Kirkman has no objection, he will give him the security requested, and of the same date of years, for a cabinet piano from fifty to seventy guineas. Of course he would like to have it as good as possible, and under your auspices. Will you put this to the builder of harmonies? I have been delighted to see in the Chronicle an advertisement of Birchall’s, announcing editions of all Mozart’s works; and shall take an early opportunity of expressing it and extending the notice. I would have Mozart as common in good libraries3 as Shakespeare and Spenser, and prints from Raphael. Most of us here envy you the power of seeing “Don Giovanni;” yet we still muster up virtue enough to wish you all well, and to send our best remembrances in return to Ave and Salve, to whom I am as good a Boothite as I can be, considering that I am also very truly yours,

Leigh Hunt.
To Vincent Novello, 240, Oxford Street.
Albion House, Marlowe, Bucks’, June 24th, 1817.

My dear Novello,—You must not think ill of me for having omitted to write to you before, except, indeed, as far as concerned an old bad habit of delay in these matters, which all my friends have reproved in turn, and which all help to spoil me by excusing. I begged Mr. Clarke to let you know how much we liked the piano here; but when you wrote about poor Wesley, I happened myself to be suffering under a pretty strong fever, which lasted me from one Friday to the next, and from which I did not quickly recover. I have since got well again, however, and yet I have not written; nay, I am going to make an excuse out of my very

3 [Thanks to Vincent Novello, this is now the case. C. C. C., 1875.]

impudence (I hope the ladies are present), and plainly tell you, that the worse my reason is for writing at last, the better you will be pleased with it, for we are coming home tomorrow. If that will not do, I have another piece of presumption, which I shall double my thrust with, and fairly run you through the heart; and this is, that we are coming to live near you, towards the end of the new road, Paddington.

I am sorry I can tell you nothing about the music of this place, except as far as the birds make it. I say the music, because it seems there are a party of the inhabitants who are fond of it. At least, I was invited the other day in a very worshipful manner to one, and regret I was not able to go, as I fear it might have been misconstrued into pride. There are other things, however, which you are fond of—beautiful walks, uplands, valleys, wood, water, steeples issuing out ot clumps of trees, most luxuriant hedges, meads, cornfields, brooks, nooks, and pretty looks. (Here a giggle, and a shake of the head from the ladies. Ave and Salve, be quiet.) The other day a party of us dined in a boat under the hanging woods of Cleveden—mentioned, you know, by Pope:—
Cleveden’s proud alcove
The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and Love.
(Giggle and shake) and a day or two before we spent a most beautiful day, dining, talking, wining, spruce-beering, and walking, in and about Medmenham Abbey, where strangers are allowed to take this liberty in memory of a set of “lay friars” who are said to have taken many more,—I mean
Wilkes and his club, who feasted and slept here occasionally, performing profane ceremonies, and others perhaps which the monks would have held to be not quite so. (Giggle and shake.)—If these people were the gross libertines they were said to be, the cause of kindly virtue was indeed in bad hands,—hands but just better than the damnatory and selfish ones to which the world has usually committed it;—but there is little reason to doubt that the stories of them (such as the supposed account for instance in “Crysal, or the
Adventures of a Guinea”) have been much exaggerated. If men of the most heartfelt principle do not escape, although they contradict in theory only the vile customs of the world, what can be expected from more libertine departers from them?—It is curious that the people at Medmenham itself do not seem to think so ill of the club as others. To be sure, it is not easy to say how far some family feelings may not be concerned in the matter; but so it is; and together with their charity, they have a great deal of health and beauty. It was said with equal naïveté and shrewdness, the other day, by a very excellent person that “faith and charity are incompatible,” and so the [illegible, torn by seal] seem resolved to maintain; but hope and charity are excellent companions, and seem [illegible] of St. Paul’s reading, I would have the three Graces completed thus,—Charity, Hope, and Nature. I have done nothing to my proposed Play here:—I do not know how it is; but I love things essentially dramatic, and yet I feel less inclination for dramatic writing than any other,—I mean my own, of course. Considering also what the taste of the day has been,—what it is to run the gauntlet through managers, actors, and singers,—and what a hobgoblin I have been in my time to the playwrights themselves, I cannot help modestly repeating to myself some lines out of your favourite
Address of Beaumont to Fletcher about the Faithful Shepherdess,—upon which, by the bye, I am writing this letter, seated on a turfy mound in my friend’s garden, a little place with a rustic seat in it, shrouded and covered with trees, with a delightful field of sheep on one side, a white cottage among the leaves in a set of fields on the other, and the haymakers mowing and singing in the fields behind me. On the side towards the lawn and house, it is as completely shut in, as Chaucer’s “pretty parlour” in the “Flower and the Leafe.”—Mrs. Hunt in the meantime is revenging the cause of all uninspired fiddlers,—namely, scraping Apollo. Pray let the ladies remain out of the secret of this as long as the suspense shall give them any pleasure;’ and then tell them that the said Apollo, whatever they may think or even hope to the contrary, is no gentleman, but a plaster statue, which Marianne is putting into a proper con-
dition for
Mr. Shelley’s library. A Venus is already scraped, to my infinite relief, who sympathized extremely with her ribs,—a sentiment which the ladies nevertheless are not very quick to show towards theirs. I beg pardon of Ave,—I mean are very,—“nevertheless” being a shocking and involuntary intrusion, suggested by my unjustifiable forgetfulness of Mr. Booth.

I will let you know where I am when I return. If I have written no play, I have not been idle with other verses, and am in all things the same as I was when I left town, so that I need not say I am sincerely yours,

Leigh Hunt.

The following letter has no date; but its postscript explanation of the verse-signatures in the “Literary Pocket-Book” shows it to have been written in 1819, which was the first year in which that publication appeared. It begins without set form of address, plunging at once, in sportive fashion, into a whimsically-worded yet most kindly rebuke to C. C. C. for having been impatient at his friend’s delay in answering a communication. The reference to the actor Fawcett and his grating laugh comes in with as pleasant an effect as the reference to John Keats’s loss of his brother Tom strikes with painfully vivid impression after this long lapse of years:—

To C. C. C. [No date.]

And so Charles Clarke is very angry with me for not sooner answering his two letters, and talks to my friends about my “regal scorn.” Well,—I have been guilty certainly of not sooner answering said two;—I have not answered them, even though they pleased me infinitely:—Charles Clarke also sent me some verses, the goodness of which (if he will not be very angry) even surprised me, yet I answered not:—he sent me them again, yet I answered not:—undoubtedly I have been extremely unresponsive; I have seemed to neglect him,—I have been silent, dilatory,
unepistolary, strange, distant ( miles), and (if the phrase “regal scorn” be true) without an excuse.

C. C. C. (meditative, but quick)—Ho, not without an excuse, I dare say. Come, come, I ought to have thought of that, before I used the words “regal scorn.” I did not mean them in fact, and therefore I thought they would touch him. Bless my soul, I ought to have thought of an excuse for him, now I think of it;—let me see;—he must have been very busy;—yes, yes, he was very busy, depend upon it:—I should not wonder if he had some particular reason for being busy just now;—I warrant you he has been writing like the Devil;—I’ll stake my life on’t,—he has almost set his tingling head asleep like my foot, with writing;—and then too, you may be certain he reproached himself every day nevertheless with not writing to me;—I’ll be bound to say that he said: I will write to Charles Clarke to-day, and I will not forget to give another notice to him in the Examiner (for he did give one), and above all, he will see his verses there, and then he will guess all;—then one day he is busy till it is too late to write by the post, and in some cursed hurry he forgets me on Saturday, and then—and what then? Am I not one of his real friends? Have I not a right to be forgotten or rather unwritten to by him, for weeks, if by turning his looks, not his heart, away from me, he can snatch repose upon the confidence of my good opinion of him? I think I see him asking me this; and curse me (I beg your pardon, Miss Jones), but confound me, I should say—no, I should not say,—but the deuce take—in short, here’s the beginning of his letter, and so there’s an end of my vagaries.

My dear friend, you are right. I have been very busy,—so busy both summer and winter, that summer has scarcely been any to me; and my head at times has almost grown benumbed over my writing. I have been intending everything and anything, except loyal anti-constitutionalism and Christian want of charity. I have written prose, I have written poetry, I have written levities and gravities, I have written two acts of a Tragedy, and (oh Diva pecunia) I have written a Pocket-Book! Let my Morocco blushes speak for me; for with this packet comes a copy. When you read
Calendar of Nature, you will feel that I did not forget you; for you are one of those in whose company I always seem to be writing these things. Had your poetry arrived soon enough, I should have said “Oh, ho!” and clapped it among my Pocket-Book prisoners. As it is, it must go at large in the Examiner, where it will accordingly be found in a week or two. And here let me say, that bad as I have been, I begged Mr. Holmes to explain why I had not written; so that if he has been a negligent epistolian as well as myself, why—there are two good fellows who have done as they ought not to have done, and there is no epistle in us. (Here Charles Clarke gives a laugh, which socially speaking is very musical; but abstractedly, resembles fifty Fawcetts, or ten rusty iron gates scraping along gravel.) You must know that you must keep my tragic drama a secret, unless you have one female ear into which you can own for me the rough impeachment. (Here ten gates.) It is on the same subject as the “Cid” of Corneille; and I mean it to be ready by the middle of January for the so theatre; if you will get your hands in training meantime, I trust, God willing, the groundlings will have their ears split. If not, I shall make up my mind, like a damned vain fellow, that they are too large and tough; and so with this new pun in your throat, go you along with me in as many things as you did before, my dear friend, for I am ever the same, most truly yours,

Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—The verses marked ϕ in the Pocket-Book are mine, Δ Mr. Shelley’s, P.R. a Mr. Procter’s, and I. Keats’s, who has just lost his brother Tom after a most exemplary attendance on him. The close of such lingering illness, however, can hardly be lamented. Mr. Richards, who has just dropped in upon me, begs to be remembered to you.

The following letter alludes to a project for a work which was to be published by Power, was to be entitled “Musical Evenings,” and was to consist of poetry, original or selected, by Leigh Hunt, adapted to melodies, original or selected, by Vincent Novello. The work,
most tasteful in conception and most tastefully carried out by the poet and musician in concert (so far as it proceeded towards execution), was ultimately given up, as being much too far in advance of the then existing public taste for music, and from the conviction that not enough copies would be sold to make the enterprise profitable to either publisher, poet, or musician:—

To V. N.
13, Mortimer Terrace, Kentish Town, Feb. 15th, 1820.

My dear Novello,—Unless you should avail yourself of the holiday to-morrow to transact any unprofessional business elsewhere, will you oblige me by coming and taking your chop or your tea here to-morrow, to talk over a proposal which Power has made me, and which I think you will consider a good one? The truth is, I want you, if you have no objection, to negotiate the money part of the business between him and me; as I have no face in these matters but a mediating one, like your own. I will chop at half-past three. At all events, in case you go to Hampstead, and can come after your schooling. Hampstead is now in my eye, hill, trees, church and all, from the slopes near Caen wood to my right, and Primrose and Haverstock Hills with Steele’s cottage to my left. I trust I shall have an early opportunity of introducing Mrs. Novello to Pan—both in his frying and sylvan character. When I add that we have been in great confusion (it is not great now), I do it to bar all objections from you on that score, and to say that I expect you the more confidently on that very account, if you can come at all. The house is most convenient and cheerful, and considered by us as quite a bargain.

P.S.—Power is half prepared to welcome you, if you have no objection. He speaks of your power (I must call him fondly my Power) in the highest terms; but this, I suppose, is no new thing to your lyrical ears.

If you can come early, we will make a whole holiday, which will be a great refreshment to me.


The “original” manuscript copy of Leigh Hunt’s translation of Tasso’sAmyntas,” alluded to in the next letter, Vincent Novello caused to be bound in green and gold, together with the printed presentation copy of the first edition; and the volume is still in excellent preservation. On the title-page is written in Leigh Hunt’s hand, “To Vincent Novello, from his affectionate friend the translator;” and inside the cover is written in Vincent Novello’s hand, beneath his own name and address, “I prize this volume, which was so kindly presented to me by my dear friend Leigh Hunt, as one of the most valuable books in my library; and I particularly request that it may be carefully preserved as an heirloom in my family when I am no more.—V. N.” The “sorrows” to which Leigh Hunt sympathizingly refers were those of losing a beautiful boy of four years old, Sydney Vincent Novello:—

To V. N. (8, Percy Street.)
Kentish Town, Wednesday, July, 1820.

My dear Novello,—In addition to the “Morgante,” I send you the first volume of “Montaigne,” which I have marked (so that I shall be in a manner in your company if you read any of it), and also the promised copy of “Amyntas,” with the original to compare it with in any passage, as you seem to like those awful confrontings. Pray get an “Ariosto,” if you have time. I am sure his natural touches and lively variety will delight you. The edition I spoke of is Boschini’s, a little duodecimo or eighteens, printed by Schulze and Dean, Poland Street, where I believe it is to be bought. But you could get it at any foreign bookseller’s. Be good enough to leave the Cenci MS. out for me with the Gliddons. I should not care about it, but the Gisbornes are about to return to Italy, and I am not sure whether they have given or lent it me. God bless you. You know how I respect
sorrow:—you know also how I respect the wisdom and kindness that try to be cheerful again. I need not add how much the feelings of you and
Mrs. Novello (to whom give our kindest good wishes in case we do not see you to-morrow) are respected, and sympathized with, by your ever affectionate friend,

Leigh Hunt.

P. S.—Do not trouble yourself to answer this note. Go out instead and buy the “Ariosto.” It is the pleasantest little pocket-rogue in the world. The translation of “Montaigne” is an excellent one, by Cotton the poet, old Izaak Walton’s friend.

The next letter is superscribed after the pleasant fashion that Leigh Hunt occasionally adopted, in directing his letters to his friends, of putting some gay jest outside, as if he must add a last word or two in sending off a communication with those he loved, and as if he could not bear to conclude his chat or take leave of them:—

To C. C. C.
Bellevue House, Ramsgate.
By favour of
Mrs. Gliddon—post unpaid.
Percy Street, August 31st, 1821.
My dear Si si si

Mr. and Mrs. Novello tell me that you will be gratified at having a word from me, however short. What word shall I send you, equally short and sweet? I believe I must refer you to the postwoman; for the ladies understand these beatic brevities best. However, if I cannot prevail on myself to send you a mere word or a short one, I will send you a true one, which is, that in spite of all my non-epistolary offences—(come, it is a short one too, after all)—I am, my dear Clarke, very truly and heartily yours,

Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—Novello and I are just putting the finishing touch to
our first Musical Evening, which I hope
Power will put it into my ditto to send you a copy of.

It is difficult to ascertain the period when the following note was written, but it appears to belong to an early one:—

To C. C. C.
[No date.]

My dear Friend,—. . . . I send you on the opposite side some verses which my Summer Party sing on the grass after dinner. I forgot, by-the-bye, to tell you yesterday a piece of news which has flattered me much—that Stothard told an acquaintance of mine the other day he had been painting a subject from “Rimini:”—

To the Spirit great and good,
Felt, although not understood,—
By whose breath, and in whose eyes,
The green earth rolls in the blue skies,—
Who we know, from things that bless,
Must delight in loveliness;
And who, therefore, we believe,
Means us well in things that grieve,—
Gratitude! Gratitude!
Heav’n be praised as heavenly should,
Not with slavery, or with fears,
But with a face as towards a friend, and with thin sparkling tears.

The next five letters were written while Leigh Hunt and his family were on their way to Italy. The allusion to “Fanchon” refers to an arrangement of Himmel’s so-named opera, which Vincent Novello had brought out in four books of Pianoforte duets.

“Wilful Woman” was an affectionate nickname of Leigh Hunt’s for Mrs. Vincent Novello, in recognition of her having a decided “will” in matters right and good. A woman less “wilful” in the unreasonable sense of the
term, or more full of will in the noblest sense of the term, could not be cited than herself:—

To V. N. [in pencil.]
2, High Street, Ramsgate,
Monday, December 3rd, 1821.

My dear Novello,—Here we are in absolute quiet, with a real flat place to sit upon, and several foot square of parlour to walk about when one pleases: in short, in lodgings—the rudder of the vessel having been so broken that she cannot set sail, fair wind or foul, till Wednesday evening.

We now, with a rascally selfishness, wish that the wind may not change for a whole week, though the 200 sail in the harbours should be groaning every timber; for though we were much alarmed at first in moving my wife, she already seems wonderfully refreshed by this little taste of shore; and at all events while we do remain at Ramsgate, I am sure it is much better for both of us that we should be here. Only think! we shall have a quiet bed at night, and even air! If we were moving on at sea, it would be another matter; but I confess the idea of lying and lingering in that manner in a muddy harbour was to me, in my state of health, like rotting alive.

When I say, we can go on Wednesday, I do not mean that we shall do so, or that I think we shall; for the wind is still in the west, and I suspect after all these winds, we shall have a good mass of rain to fall, of which they are generally the avant-couriers. What say you then? Will you come and beatify us again? And will Mrs. Novello come with you? Why not give the baby a dip in a warm bath, if they must be still one and indivisible. I think we can get you a bed in the house; if not, there are plenty in the neighbourhood. Pray remember me cordially to the Gliddons, and tell the fair one that her sugar-plums have been a shower of aids and assistance to us with the children. I shall see if I can’t send her something as sweet from Italy. In the meantime I send her and Mrs. Novello, and all of you, the best salutations you can couple with the idea of

L. H.
To Mr. and Mrs. Novello, and Mr. and Mrs. G. (Percy Street.)
Dartmouth, December 24th, 1821.

Dear Friends,—Here we are again in England, after beating twice up and down the Channel, and getting as far as the Atlantic. What we have suffered I will leave you to imagine, till you see my account of the voyage; but we were never more inclined to think that “All’s well that ends well,” and what we hoped we still hope, and are still prepared to venture for. We arrived on Saturday, which was no post-day. Next day I wrote to my brother and Miss Kent, and begged the latter to send you news of our safety; for I was still exhausted with the fatigue and anxiety, and I knew well that you would willingly wait another day for my handwriting when you were sure of our welfare. I had hoped that this letter would reach you in the middle of what I would reach in vain—your Christmas festivities; so that a bit of my soul if not of my body, of my handwriting if not my grasping hand, might come in at your parlour door and seem to join you as my representative; but a horrid matter-of-fact woman at the Castle Inn here, who proclaims the most unwelcome things in a voice hideously clear and indisputable, says that a post takes two nights and a day. I hope, however, to hear from you, and to write again, for the vessel has been strained by the bad weather, and must be repaired a little, and the captain vows he will not go to sea again till the wind is exquisitely fair. Above all, Dartmouth is his native place, and who shall say to him, “Get up from your old friends and fireside, and quench yourself in a sea fog?” Not I, by St. Vincent and St. Sabilla, and King Arthur and Queen Anastasia. I am sorry to say that the alarms which it is impossible not to help feeling on such occasions have done no good to Mrs. Hunt’s malady, though when she was in repose the sea air was evidently beneficial. For my part, I confess I was as rank a coward many times as a father and husband who has seven of the best reasons for cowardice can be; but Hope and Mutuality you know are my mottoes. And so, with all sorts of blessings upon your heads, farewell, dear friends, till we hear from each other again.—Stop! Here is
a Christmas Carol in which perhaps some of you will pay me a visit—Mistletoe and Holly! Mistletoe and Holly!

L. H.

Remember me to the Lambs, to Mr. Clarke, to the Robertsons, etc.

To V. N.
Stonehouse, near Plymouth, Feb. 11th, 1822.

Oh Novello! what a disappointing, wearisome, vexatious, billowy, up-and-downy, unbearable, beautiful world it is! I cannot tell you all I have gone through since I wrote to you; but I believe, after all, that all has been for the best, bad as it is. The first stoppage, unavoidable as it was, almost put me beside myself. Those sunshiny days and moonlight nights! And the idea of running merrily to Gibraltar! I used to shake in my bed at night with bilious impatience, and feel ready to rise up and cry out. But knowing what I since know, I have not only reason to believe that my wife would have suffered almost as terribly afterwards as she did at the time, but I am even happy that we underwent the second stoppage at this place,—at least as happy as a man can be whose very relief arises from the illness of one dear to him. Marianne fell so ill the day on which the new vessel we had engaged sailed from Plymouth, that she was obliged to lose forty-six ounces of blood in twenty-four hours, to prevent inflammatory fever on the lungs. With the exception of a few hours she has been in bed ever since, sometimes improving, sometimes relapsing and obliged to lose more blood, but always so weak and so ailing that, especially during the return of these obstinate S.W. winds, I have congratulated myself almost every hour that circumstances conspired with my fears for her to hinder us from proceeding. Indeed I should never have thought of doing so after her Dartmouth illness, had she not, as she now confesses, in her eagerness not to be the means of detaining me again, misrepresented to me her power of bearing the voyage. I shall now set myself down contentedly till spring, when we shall have shorter nights, and she will be able to be upon deck in the daytime. She will then receive benefit from the sea, as she
ought to do, instead of being shaken by it; and as to gunpowder! be sure I shall always make inquiries enough about that. She starts sometimes to this hour in the middle of the night, with the horror of it, out of her sleep. It gave a sort of horrible sting to my feet sometimes as I walked the deck, and fancied we might all be sent shattered up in the air in the twinkling of an eye; but I seldom thought of this danger, and do not believe there was any to be seriously alarmed at, though the precautions and penalties connected with the carriage of such an article were undoubtedly sufficient to startle a freshwater imagination, to say nothing of that of a sick mother with six children. The worst feeling it gave me was when it came over me down in the cabin while we were comparatively comfortable,—especially when little baby was playing his innocent tricks. I used to ask myself what right I had to bring so much innocent flesh and blood into such an atrocious possibility of danger. But what used chiefly to rouse my horrors was the actual danger of shipwreck during the gales; and of these, as you may guess from my being imaginative, I had my full share. Oh the feelings with which I have gone out from the cabin to get news, and have stood at the top of that little staircase down which you all came to bid me goodbye! How I have thought of you in your safe, warm rooms, now merrily laughing, now “stopping the career of laughter with a sigh” to wonder how the “sailors” might be going on! My worst sensation of all was the impossibility I felt of dividing myself into seven different persons in case anything happened to my wife and children. But as the voyage is not yet over—remember, however, that the worst part, the winter part, is over. You shall have an account of that as well as the rest when I get to Italy and write it for the new work. Remember in the meantime what I tell you, and that we mean to be very safe, very cowardly, and vernal all the rest of the way. It was a little hard upon me,—was it not? that I could not have the [qu? reward—illegible] of finishing the voyage boldly at once, especially as it was such fine weather when they set off again, and I can go through any danger as stubbornly as most persons, provided you allow me a pale face and a considerable quantity of internal poltroonery:—
but my old reconciling philosophy, such as it is, has not forsaken me; and well it may remain, for God only knows what I should have done, had my wife been seized with this illness during the late return of the winds. I am very uneasy about her at all times: but in that case, considering too I might have avoided bringing her into such a situation, I should have been almost out of my wits. The vessel in which we intended to resume our journey (besides being more ornamental than solid, and never yet tried by a winter passage, except three days of one, which shattered it grievously) must have had a bad time of it; and it is the opinion of everybody here, both doctors and seamen, that her life was not to be answered for had we encountered such weather. So I look at her in her snug, unmoving bed, and hope and trust she is getting strength enough from repose to renew her journey in the spring. We set off in April.—As to myself, my health is not at its best, but it is not at its worst. I manage to write a little, though the weather has been against me. I read more, and sometimes go to the Plymouth public library, where a gentleman has got me admission, and receive infinite homage from Examinerions in these parts, who have found me out. They want me to meet a “hundred admirers” at a public dinner: but this, you know, is not to my taste. I tell them I prefer a cup of tea with one of them now and then in private, and so they take me at my word, and I find them such readers as I like,—good-natured, cordial men, with a smack of literature.—I saw the announcement of the 4th part of your “Fanchon” in the
London Magazine. You cannot imagine how the look of your name delighted me. You must know I had a design upon you for our new Italian work when I bore away your “Fanchon.” So, say nothing about it (I mean to myself), but wait for an increase of your laurel from a hand you love. I think it will come with a good and profitable effect from such a quarter.—Tell Mrs. Gliddon, albeit she retains a piece of them, that I have found the cheeks which she and her sister left in Devonshire. There is a profusion of such,—faces that look built up of cream and roses, and as good-natured as health can make them. In looking for lodgings I lit also upon a namesake of
hers, no relation, who spelt her name with a Y. I suppose a hundred and fiftieth cousin. She was a pleasant, chattering old woman with a young spirit, who, not being able to accommodate us herself, recommended her neighbours all round, and told me millions of things in a breath.—Dear Novello, I cannot tell you how I feel the kindness of my friends,—kindness, of which I know that you and
Mrs. Novello, together with Bessie Kent, have been the souls. God bless you all. I will say more to you all from Italy. You will see my hand in the Examiner again in a week or two (about the time I could have written on the subject from abroad) with a few touches for Southey and the Quarterly.—It delights me to see the intimacy there is between you and Miss K.; she speaks in the most affectionate terms of you and your wife, and receives all the solace from your intercourse which I expected. Take a dozen hearty shakes of the hand from me, dear Novello, and give (you see how much I can ask of you) as many kisses of the same description to Mrs. Novello, unless “dear Mr. Arthur” is present and will do it for us. Convey also as many kisses to Mrs. Gliddon as the said dear Mr. Arthur could have given my wife had she been at your Christmas festivities, taking care (as in the former instance) that they be in high taste and most long and loud.—And so, Heaven bless you all and make us to send many good wishes to and from Italy to each other till we meet again face to face.—Your affectionate friend,

Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—I can tell you nothing of the Plymouth neighbourhood, being generally occupied with my wife’s bedside; but the town is a nice clean one; and after being at Dartmouth I felt all the price of Mirabeau’s gratitude, who when he came into England, and saw streets paved, fell on his knees and thanked God there was a country in the world where some regard was had for foot-passengers. Dartmouth is a kind of sublime Wapping, being a set of narrow muddy streets in a picturesque situation on the side of a hill. The people too, poor creatures, are as dirty there as can be, having lost all their trade; whereas at Plymouth they are all fat and flourishing.—Stonehouse is a kind of separate suburb to Plymouth
on the seashore.—My wife’s kindest remembrances.—And mine to all rememberers.

To M. S. N. Percy Street.
March 2nd, 1822.

Dear Mary Novello,—Your letter was a very great pleasure to us indeed, though it made us very impatient to be in the midst of our friends. We are like Mahomet’s coffin at present, suspended between our two attractions; but the ship will carry us off in April, and turn us again into living creatures. No: it is you and Novello who must revive us meanwhile. Do you know, I was going to ask you to come down here, and see us once more before we go; but I was afraid you would think there was no end of my presuming upon your regards. Guess, however, what pleasure your own intimation gave us. You must fulfil it, now you have given it. No excuse—no sort of excuse. Novello must tear himself from all the boarding-school ladies, let them lay hold of the flaps of his coat never so Potipharically. There are, as you say, stages, waggons, carts, trucks, wheelbarrows, &c.:—there are also kind hearts in stout bodies: and finally, our direction is, Mrs. L’Amoureux, Devil’s Point, Stonehouse, Plymouth, Devonshire.

You see the way we are in, in this Devon of a county. Then there are the Devonshire creams, too good; Mount Edgecombe here close at our elbow looking like a Hampstead in the sea; boats and smooth harbours to sail about in; the finest air in England, with a little bit of the South of Europe in it; all sorts of naval curiosities; sunshine every day, and moonlight too, just now, every night; and finally, dear friends, who want the society of dear friends to strengthen them through their cares and delays. I must not forget, that the road between London and Plymouth is said to be excellent, and that there is a safety-coach just set up, which boasts itself to be worthy of the road. So we shall expect you in the course of the week,—mind that I shall expect a letter too, to arrive just before you. You must send it off on Monday evening, and follow it with all your might and muscles. At least Novello must do so. I forgot, that ladies have no
muscles. They have only eyes and limbs. You must not talk of your music, till Novello is here to inspire a pianoforte which I have just hired for a month. It is the only pleasure to which I have treated myself, and without him I find it but a pain. There is a regiment stationed here, who have a band that plays morning and evening. It plays
Mozart too, and pretty well, only I longed to jog their elbows the other day, when they came to the 2nd part of “Batti, batti.” However, it was so beautiful, that I could not stand it out; it reminded me of so many pleasures, that between you and me and two or three others, the tears came into my eyes, and I was obliged to go out of the place to hide them. . . .

Your truly affectionate friend,
L. H.
Stonehouse, near Plymouth, March 26th, 1822.

Dear Mary Novello,—Your last letter was a great disappointment to me, but I have been so accustomed to disappointments of late, that I looked out for the pleasant points it contained to console me, and for these I am very thankful. I should have written before, but I have been both ill and rakish, which is a very bad way of making oneself better, at least anywhere but in old places with old friends, and there it does not always do. Remember me affectionately to the Lambs. There are no Lambs here, nor Martin Burneys neither; “though by your smiling you don’t seem to think so.” Smile as you may, I find I cannot comfortably give up anybody whom I have been accustomed to associate with the idea of friends in London; and besides, there are some men, like Collins’s music, “by distance made more sweet;” which is a sentiment I beg you will not turn to ill account. How cheerful I find myself getting, when fancying myself in Percy Street! I hope Mr. Clarke will find himself quite healthy again in Somersetshire. He ought to be so, considering the prudence, and the good nature, and the stout legs, and the pleasant little bookeries which he carries about with him; but then he must renounce those devils and all their works, the cheesemonger and pieman. Perhaps he has; but his complexion is like mine, and I remember what a world of back-
sliding and nightmare I went through before I could deliver myself from the crumbling un-crumblingness of Cheshire cheese, and that profound attraction, the under-crust of a veal or mutton pie. . . .

It is kind of you to tell me of the gratification which Mr. Holmes says I have been the means of giving him. Tell him I hope to give him more with my crotchets before I die, and receive as much from his crotchets. How much pleasure have you all given me! And this reminds me that I must talk a little to Novello; so no more at present, dear blackheaded, good-hearted, wilful woman, from yours most sincerely,

L. H.

The next two letters explain themselves:—

To V. N. and M. S. N.
Genoa, June 17th, 1822.

Amici veri e costanti,—Miss Kent will have told you the reason why I did not write on Saturday. The boatman was waiting to snatch the letters out of my hand; and besides hers, I was compelled to write three—one to my brother John, one to Mr. Shelley, and another to Lord B.—Neither can I undertake to write you a long letter at present, and I must communicate with my other friends by driblets, one after the other; for my head is yet very tender, though I promise to get more health, and you know I have a great deal of writing to think about and to do. Be good enough therefore to show this letter to the Gliddons, the Lambs, Mr. Coulson, and Mr. Hogg, whom I also request to show you theirs, or such parts, of them as contain news of Italy and nothing private. Need I add, that of whatever length my letters may be, my heart is still the same towards you? I wish you could know how often we have thought and talked of you. You know my taste for travelling. I should like to take all my friends with me, like an Arabian caravan. Fond as I am of home, my home is dog-like, in the persons—not cat-like, in the place; and I should desire no better Paradise, to all eternity, than gipsyizing with those I love all over the world. But I must tell you news, instead of olds. I wrote the preceding page, seated
upon some boxes on deck, surrounded by the shipping and beautiful houses of Genoa; an awning over my head, a fine air in my face, and only comfortably warm, though the natives themselves are complaining of the heat. (I have not forgotten, by the bye, that your family, Novello, came from Piedmont, so that I am nearer to your old original country, and to England too, than I was two or three weeks ago.) I was called down from deck to
Mrs. Hunt, who is very weak; a winter passage would certainly have killed her. The “Placidia” had a long passage for winter with rough winds; and even the agitations of summer travelling are almost too much for my wife; nor has that miserable spitting of blood ceased at all. But we hope much from rest at Pisa, As for the “Jane,” she encountered a violent storm in the Gulf of Lyons which laid her on her side, and did her great injury. Only think—as the young ladies say. Captain Whitney was destined after all to land me in Italy, for the “Jane” is here, and he accompanied me yesterday evening when I first went on shore. I found him a capital cicerone, and he seemed pleased to perform the office. My sensations on first touching the shore I cannot express to you. Genoa is truly la superba. Imagine a dozen Hampsteads one over the other, intermingled with trees, rock, and white streets, houses, and palaces. The harbour lies at the foot in a semicircle, with a quay full of good houses and public buildings. Bathers, both male and female, are constantly going by our vessel of a morning in boats with awnings, both to a floating bath, and to swim (i. e., the male) in the open sea. They return dressing themselves as they go, with an indelicacy, or else delicacy, very startling to us Papalengis. The ladies think it judicious to conceal their absolute ribs; but a man (whether gentleman or not I cannot say) makes nothing of putting on his shirt, as he returns; or even of alfrescoing it without one, as he goes; and people, great and small, are swimming about us in all directions. The servant, a jolly Plymouth damsel (for Elizabeth was afraid to go on), thinks it necessary to let us know that she takes no manner of interest in such spectacles. I had not gone through a street or two on shore before I had the luck to meet a religious procession, the last this season.
Good God! what a thing! It consisted, imprimis, of soldiers; secondly, of John the Baptist, four years of age, in a sheepskin; thirdly, of the Virgin, five or six ditto, with a crown on her head, led by two ladies; fourthly, friars—the young ones (with some fine faces among them) looking as if they were in earnest, and rather melancholy—the others apparently getting worldly, sceptical, and laughing in proportion as they grew old; fifthly, a painting of St. Antonio; sixthly, monks with hideous black cowls all over their faces, with holes to look through; seventhly, a crucifix as large as life, well done (indeed, every work of art here has an air of that sort if nothing else); eighthly, more friars, holding large wax-lights, the ends of which were supported, or rather pulled down, by the raggedest and dirtiest boys in the city, who collect the dropping wax in paper and sell it for its virtues; ninthly, music, with violins; tenthly and lastly, a large piece of waxwork, carried on a bier by a large number of friars, who were occasionally encouraged by others to trot stoutly (for a shuffling trot is their pace), and representing St. Antonio paying homage to the Virgin, both as large as life, surrounded with lights and artificial flowers, and seated on wax clouds and cherubim. It would have made me melancholy had not the novelty of everything and the enormous quantity of women of all ranks diverted my thoughts. The women are in general very plain, and the men too, though less so; but when you do meet with fine faces, they are fine indeed; and the ladies are apt to have a shape and air very consoling for the want of better features. But my trembling hands, as well as the paper, tell me that I must leave off, and that I have gone, like Gilpin, “farther than I intended.” God bless you, dear friends. La Sposa and you must get me up a good long letter. My wife sends her best remembrances. Your ever affectionate friend,

L. H.
To V. N. and M. S. N. (By favour of Mrs. Williams.)
Pisa, September 9th, 1822.

Dear, Kind Friends,—The lady who brings you this is the widow of Lieutenant Williams. You know the dreadful calamity we have sustained here—an unspeakable one to me
as well as to her; but we are on every account obliged and bound to be as patient as possible under it. The nature of the friends we have lost at once demands it and renders it hard. I have reason to be thankful that I have suffered so much in my life, since the habit renders endurance more tolerable in the present instance. Think of me as of one going on altogether very well, and who still finds a reason in everything for reposing on those who love him.

Mrs. Williams wishes to know you, and from what I have seen and heard of her is worthy to do so. My departed friend had a great regard for her. She is said to be an elegant musician, but she has not had the heart to touch an instrument since I have known her. Distance and other scenes will doubtless show her the necessity of breaking through this tender dread. There is something peculiar in her history which she will one day perhaps inform you of, but I do not feel myself at liberty to disclose it, though it does her honour. When she relates it, you will do justice to my reasons for keeping silence. I envy her the sight of you, the hearing of the piano, the sharing of your sofa, the bookcase on the right-hand, the stares of my young old acquaintances, &c. But I still hope to see the best part of these movables in Italy. I dare not dwell upon the break-up that was given here to all the delights I had anticipated. Lord B. is very kind, and I may possibly find a new acquaintance or two that will be pleasant; but what can fill up the place that such a man as S. occupied in my heart? Thank God it has places still occupied by other friends, or it would be well content to break at once against the hardness of this toiling world. But let me hold on. It is a good world still while it is capable of producing such friends. I must also tell you, to comfort you for all this dreary talking, that we have abundance of materials for our new work, the last packet for the first number of which goes to England this week.

I can also work in this climate better than in England, and my brother and I are such correspondents again as we ought to be. This is much. My wife also is much better, and I hear good accounts of her sister and other dear friends. I had heard of the Lambs and their ultra voyages, with what
pleasure at first and with what melancholy at last, you may guess. Remember me to all the kind friends who send me their remembrances—
Mr. Clarke, Mr. Holmes, and particularly the Gliddons, whom I recollect with a tenderness which they will give me credit for when they see—what they shall see, to wit, the letter which accompanies the present one, and which I beg you will give them.

The work will very speedily be out now, entirely made up by Lord B., dear S., and myself. I refer you to it for some account of Pisa.

God bless you. A kiss for you, Mary, and a shake of the hand for you, Vincent.—Your affectionate friend,

L. H.

P.S.—We drank Novello’s health on his birthday. Be sure that we always drink healths on birthdays.

The next seven are still from Italy, the concluding one showing how strong was his yearning to be back in dear old England.

To V. N. (By favour of Mrs. Shelley.)
Albaro, July 24th, 1823.

My dear Novello,—Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter brings you this letter. I know you would receive her with all your kindness and respect for that designation alone; but there are a hundred other reasons why you will do so, including her own extraordinary talents (which, at the same time, no woman can be less obtrusive with), the pleasure you will find in her society, and last not least, her love of music and regard for a certain professor of ditto—but I have spoken of this introduction already. I do not send you a long letter, for reasons given in the same place; but I trust it will be as good as a long letter in its returns to me, because it sets you the example of writing a short one when you cannot do more. How I envy Mary Shelley the power of taking you all by the hands and joining your kind-hearted circle! But I am there very often myself, I assure you; invisible, it is true, and behind the curtain: but it is possible, you know, to be behind a curtain and yet be very intensely present besides. But do
not let any one consider Mary S. in the light of a Blue, of which she has a great horror, but as an unaffected person, with her faults and good qualities like the rest of us; the former extremely corrected by all she has seen and endured, the latter inclining her, like a wise and kind being, to receive all the consolation which the good and the kind can give her. She will be grave with your gravities and laugh as much as you please with your merriments. For the rest, she is as quiet as a mouse, and will drink in as much
Mozart and Paesiello as you choose to afford her, with an enjoyment that you might take for a Quaker’s, unless you could contrive some day to put her into a state of pain, when she will immediately grow as eloquent and say as many fine pleasurable things as she can discourse in a novel.

God bless you, dear Novello. From Florence I shall send you some music, especially what you wanted in Rome.

From this place I can send you nothing except a ring of my hair, which you must wear for the sake of your affectionate friend,

L. H.
To Mr. and Mrs. Novello and Mr. and Mrs. Gliddon, imprimis. secondly, to Mrs. Novello alone. (Favoured by Mrs. Shelley.)
Albaro, July 25th, 1823.

Dear Friends,—I send you these modicums of distributive justice—first because, though now getting well again, I have been unwell, and secondly, because I have so much to do with my pen just now that, as I wish to keep a head on my shoulders for all your sakes, I am sure you would not willingly let me tax it beyond my strength. I shall answer, however, whatever letters you have been kind enough to send me by the box separately and at proper length. But lo! the box has not yet arrived, and when it will arrive box knows. Meanwhile let me introduce to you all in a body the dear friend who brings you this letter, and with whom you are already acquainted in some measure both privately and publicly. You will show her all the kindness and respect in your power, I am sure, for her husband’s sake, and for her
mother’s sake, and for my sake, and for her own. I am getting grave here. So now we are all in company again I will rouse my spirits and attack you separately; and first for “Wilful Woman:”—
I know not your fellow
For having your way
Both by night and by day.
It was thus I once began a letter in verse to the said
Mary Novello, which happened not to be sent; and it is thus I now begin a letter in prose to her because it is of course as applicable as ever—is it not, thou “wilful woman”? (Here I look full in the face of the same M. N., shaking my head at her: upon which she looks ditto, at me—for we cannot say ditta of a lady—and shakes her head in return, imprudently denying the fact with her good-humoured, twinkling eyes and her laughing mouth, which, how it ever happened to become wilful, odd only knows—odd is to be read in a genteel Bond Street style, Novello knows how.) So I understand, Wilful, that you sometimes get up during the perusal of passages of these mine epistles and unthinkingly insist that tired ladies who have a regard for you should eat their dinners, as if the regard for me, Wilful, is not to swallow up everything—appetite, hunger, sickness, faintness, and all. Do you hear? The best passage in all Mr. Reynolds’s plays is one that Mary Shelley has reminded me of. It is where a gentleman traveller and the governor of a citadel compliment each other in a duet, dancing, I believe, at the same time:—
Dancing Governor!
Pleasing Traveller!
Now you must know that the Attorney-General once, in an indictment for libel, had the temerity to designate me as “a yeoman”—“
Leigh Hunt, yeoman.” However, the word rhymes to “Woman,” which is a pleasing response: so I shall end my present epistle with imagining you and me on a Twelfth Night harmoniously playing at cross purposes, and singing to one another—

Wilful Woman!
Revengeful Yeoman!

God bless the hearts of you both.—Your affectionate friend,

Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—I send you a ring of my hair, value 2s. 8d. When I can afford another such splendid sum I will try and get some little inscription engraved on it, and would have done so indeed already had I thought of it in time. I’d have you to know, at the same time, that the gold is “right earnest,” which, if you mention the sum, I’d be glad you’ll also let the curious inquirers understand. So don’t be ashamed, now, but wear it. If you don’t I’ll pinch back.

The ring was worn by “Mary Novello,” and the name of “Leigh Hunt” was engraved upon the small piece of “gold” as an “inscription.” It is now in our possession, mounted on a card, bearing these memorial lines:—

Nor coal, nor jet, nor raven’s wing more black
Than this small crispy plait of ebon hair:
And well I can remember when the rare
Young poet-head, in eager thought thrown back,
Bore just such clusters; ere the whitening rack
Of years and toil, devoted to the care
For human weal, had blanch’d and given an air
Of snow-bright halo to the mass once black.
In public service, in high contemplations,
In poesy’s excitement, in the earnest
Culture of divinest aspirations,
Thy sable curls grew grey; and now thou turnest
Them to radiant lustre, silver-golden,
Touch’d by that Light no eye hath yet beholden.
To M. S. N.
Albaro, August 21st, 1823.

Wilful Woman!—And so you have got a great, large,
big Shacklewell house, and a garden, and good-natured trees in it (like those in my Choice)—
And Clarke and Mr. Holmes are seen
Peeping from forth their alleys green;
and you are looking after the “things,” and you are all to be gay and merry, and I am not to be there. Well, I don’t deserve it, whatever Fate may say, and it shall go hard but I’ll have my revenge, and my house, and my garden and things, all at Florence; and friends, fair and brown too, will come to see me there, though you won’t; and I’ll peep, without being seen, from forth my alleys green.

We go off to-morrow, and I shall send you such accounts as shall make you ready to ask Clara’s help (she being the bigger) to toss you all, as she threatened, “out of the windows.” There is nobody that will do it with so proper and grave a face. So there’s for your Shacklewell house and your never-not-coming-at-all to Italy. And now you shan’t get a word more out of me for the present, excepting that I am your old, grateful, and affectionate friend,

Leigh Hunt.

Mrs. Hunt joins in love to all the old circle.

To V. N. (favoured by Mrs. Payne.)
Florence, Sept. 9th, 1823.

My dear Novello,—You must not imagine I am going to send you all the pleasant people I may happen to meet with; but I could not resist the chance of introducing you to the grand-daughter of Dr. Burney, daughter of Captain Cooke’s Burney, niece of Evelina’s and Camilla’s Burney, friend of Charles and Mary Lamb, and a most lively, refreshing, intelligent, good-humoured person to boot, who is also a singer and pianoforte-player. All this, at least, she seems to me, in my gratitude for having met with a countrywoman who could talk to me of my old friends. I cannot write farther, for I hear the voices of gentlemen who have come to go with me, to take leave of her and her husband: but whether she happens to bring this letter or not, I could not help giving you the chance I speak of, nor her that of know-
ing you and yours, your music, &c., which is the best return I can make her for the recreation she has afforded me: and, besides, this will show you we were going on well. Florence, besides its other goods, has libraries, bookstalls, and Cockney meadows; and we begin to breathe again. I hope by this time you and
Mrs. Shelley have shaken cordial hands.

Your affectionate friend,
To V. N. and M. S. N.
Florence, January 9th, 1824.

Happy New Years for all of us: and may we all, as we do now, help to make them happier to one another.

Vincenzo  mio, I have at length found out the secret of making you write a whole letter. It is to set you upon some painful task for your friends; so having the prospect now before me of getting out of my troubles, I think I must contrive to fall into some others, purely in order that you may be epistolary. Dear Novello, how heartily I thank you! I must tell you that I had written a long letter to my brother in answer to his second one, in which I had agreed to submit the whole matter to arbitration, and had called upon your friendship to enter into it, especially in case you had any fears that you should be obliged in impartiality to be less for me than you wished. His third letter has done away with the necessity of sending this, and he will show you the letter I have written to him instead. All will now proceed amicably; but if you think me a little too inordinate and haggling, I beg you first of all to count the heads of seven of your children with their mother besides them. I have no other arithmetic in my calculations. But I will not return to my melancholy now that you have helped to brighten life for me again. I assure you it was new-burnished on New Year’s Day, for then I received all your letters at once. . . . But enough. Judge only from what a load of care you have helped to relieve me, and take your pride and pleasure accordingly, you, you—you Vincent, you. Observe, however:—all this is not to hinder from the absolute necessity and sworn duty of coming to see us as you promised. It will be sheer inhumanity if you do not;
always excepting it would make you ill to be away from home (
Mary Shelley will laugh to hear this); but then you are to have companions, who will also be very inhuman to all of us, if they do not do their duty. The cheating of the Italians in conjunction with all the other circumstances have made us frightened, or rather agreeably economical (a little difference!). We have taken wood, oil, and every possible thing out of the hands of the servants, locking it up and doling it out, and even (oh, new and odd paradise of sensation!) chuckling over the crazie and quattrini that we save. I tell you this to show you how well we prepare for visitors. But wine, and very pleasant wine too, and wholesome, is as cheap in this country as small beer; and then there will be ourselves, and your selves, and beautiful walks and weather, and novelty, and God knows how many pleasures besides, for all are comprised in the thought of seeing friends from England. So mind—I will not hear of the least shadow of the remotest approach to the smallest possible distant hint of a put-off. All the “Gods in Council” would rise up and say, “This is a shame!” So in your next tell me when you are coming. I must only premise that it must be when the snows are well off the mountain road. You see by this how early, as well as how certainly, I expect you. I must leave off and rest a little; for I have had much letter-writing after much other writing, and I am going to have much other writing. But my head and spirits have both bettered with my prospects; at least the latter have, and I have every reason to believe the former will, though I shall have more original composition to do than of late. But I shall work with certainties upon me, in my old paper, and not be tied down to particular dimensions. As you have seen all my infirmities, I must tell you of a virtue of mine, which is, that having no pianoforte at present, I lent, with rage and benevolence in my heart, all the new music you sent me to a lady who is going to Rome. It is very safe, or you may believe my benevolence would not have gone so far. Besides, it was to be played and sung by the Pope’s own musicians. Think of that, thou chorister. I shall have it back before you come, and shall lay aside a particular hoard to hire an instrument for your playing it.
Charles Clarke for his letter, and tell him that he will be as welcome in Italy as he was in my less romantic prison of Horsemonger Gaol. I am truly obliged to him, also, for his kindness to Miss Kent’s book, and shall write to tell him so after I have despatched a few articles for the Examiner—all which articles, observe also, are written to my friends.

Your affectionate friend,
Leigh Hunt.

Oh thou wilful—for art thou not wilful? Charles Clarke says no, and that your name is Brougham; “but I, Mr., calls him Bruffam”—but art thou not always wilful woman, and oughtest thou not for ever to remain so, seeing that thy will is bent upon “inditing a good matter,” and that thou sittest up at midnight with an infinitely virtuous profligacy to write long and kind and delightful letters to exiles on their birthdays? Do not think me ungrateful for not having answered it sooner. It is not, as you might suppose, my troubles that have hindered me, saving and except that the quantity of writing that I have had, or rather the effect which writing day after day has upon me, made me put off an answer which I wished to be a very long one. Had I not wished that, I should have written sooner; and wishing it or not, I ought to have done so; but your last letter shows that you can afford to forgive me. Latterly, I will confess that the pitch of trouble to which my feelings had been wrought made it more difficult for me than usual to come into the company of my friends, with the air they have always inspired me with; but I bring as well as receive a pleasure now, and wish I could find some means of showing you how grateful I am for all your sendings, those in the box included. Good God! I have never yet thanked you even for that. But you know how late it must have come. My wife has been brilliant ever since in the steel bracelets, which she finds equally useful and ornamental. They were the joy and amazement of an American artist (now in Rome), who had never been in England, and who is wise enough to be proud of the superior workmanship of his cousins the English,
though a sturdy Republican. (Speaking of Rome, pray tell
Novello to send me the name of the musical work which he wanted there, which I have put away in some place so very safe that it is undiscoverable.) The needles also were more than welcome. As to the pencils, I made a legitimate use of my despotic right as a father of a family, and appropriated them almost all to myself. “Consider the value of such timber here.” Here the needles don’t prick, and the pencils do: and as to elastic bracelets, you may go to a ball, if you please, in a couple of rusty iron hoops made to fit. Do you know that I had half a mind to accept your offer of coming over to take us to England, purely that you might go back without us—including your stay in the meantime. You must not raise such images to exiles without realizing them. I hope some day or other to be able to take some opportunity of running over during a summer, though Mary Shelley will laugh at this, and I know not what Marianne Hunt would say to it. Profligate fellow that I am! I never slept out of my bed ever since I was married, but two nights at Sydenham. As to coming to England to stay, it is quite out of the question for either of us at present. The winters would kill her side and my head. On the other hand, the vessel in her side is absolutely closing again here in winter-time, and our happier prospects in other respects render the prospect happier in this. Cannot you as well as C. C. come with Novello? Bring some of the children with you. Why cannot you all come—you and Statia, and Mrs. Williams, and Mary S., and Miss Kent, and Holmes (to study), and every other possible and impossible body? Write me another good, kind, long letter, to show that you forgive me heartily for not writing myself, and tell me all these and a thousand other things. I think of you all every day more or less, but particularly on such days as birthdays and Twelfthdays. We drank your health the other night sitting in our country solitude, and longing infinitely, as we often do, for a larger party—but always a party from home. What a birthnight you gave me! These are laurels indeed! Tell me in your next how all the children are, not forgetting Clara, who threatened in a voice of tender acquiescence to throw us all
out of the window, herself included. All our children continue extremely well, little Vincent among them, who is one of the liveliest yet gentlest creatures in the world.

Pray remember me to Mr. and Mrs. B. H. I would give anything at present to hear one of her songs; and I suppose she would give anything, to have a little of my sunshine. Such is the world! But it makes one love and help one another too. So love me and help me still, dear friends all.

L. H.
To M. S. N.
Florence, November 13th, 1824.

Oh, Wilful!—Am I to expect another birthday letter? If so (but two such birthdays can hardly come together), I will do my best to be grateful, and send you a mirth-day letter. Do you know that however differently-shaped you may regard yourself at present at Shacklewell, here at Florence you are a square? and that I am writing at present in one of your second stories at Mrs. Brown’s lodgings, who can only find me this half-sheet of paper to write upon? I should have thought better of you, considering you have the literary interest so much at heart. Your name is Sancta Maria Novella, and there is a church in a corner of you, which makes a figure in the opening of Boccaccio’sDecameron.” So adieu, dear Sancta.—Ever yours, sick or merry,

L. H.
To Mrs. Novello, to Mrs. Gliddon, to “dear Arthur.”
Florence, September 7th, 1825.

The Ladies first—To Mrs. Novello.

Madam,—My patience is not so easily worn out as your Wilfulship imagines. I allow you have seen me impatient of late on one subject; but I beg you to believe I confine my want of philosophy to that single point. That is the wolf in my harmony. On all other matters (a three-years-and-a-half’s dilapidation excepted) you will find me the same man I was ever—half melancholy and half mirth—and gratefully ready to forego the one whenever in the company of my friends.
So, madam, I’d have you to know that I am extremely patient, and that if I do not take courage it is because I have it already; and you must farther know, madam, that we do not mean to live at Plymouth, but at a reasonable distance from town; and also that if we cannot get a cottage to go into immediately we shall go for a month or two into metropolitan lodgings: item, that we shall all be glad to hear of any cottage twenty or twenty-five miles off, or any lodgings in any quiet and cheap street in London; farthermore, that, besides taking courage, we have taken the coach from Florence to Calais; and finally, that we set off next Saturday, the 10th instant, and by the time you receive this shall be at the foot of the Alps. “I think here be proofs.” We go by Parma, Turin, Mont Cenis, Lyons, and Paris.
Mrs. Shelley will be better able to tell you where a letter can reach us than I can—yet a calculation, too, might be made, for we travel forty miles a day, and stop four days out of the thirty-one allotted to us: one at Modena, one at Turin, one at Lyons, one at Paris. Can we do anything for you? I wish I could bring you some bottled sunshine for your fruit-trees. It is a drug we are tired of here. Mud—mud—is our object; cold weather out of doors, and warm hearts within. By the way, as you know nothing about it, I must tell you that somebody has been dedicating a book to me under the title of “A Day in Stowe Gardens” (send and buy it for my sake), and it is a very pretty book, though with the airs natural to a dedicatee, I have picked some verbal faults with it here and there. What I like least is the story larded with French cookery. Some of the others made me shed tears, which is very hard upon me, from an Old Boy (for such on inspection you will find the author to be); I should not have minded it had it been a woman. The Spanish Tale ends with a truly dramatic surprise; and the Magdalen Story made me long to hug all the parties concerned, the writer included. So get the book, and like it, as you regard the sympathies and honours of yours, ever cordially,

L. H.

To Mrs. Gliddon.

Well, madam, and as to you. They tell me you are getting rich: so you are to suppose that during my silence I have been standing upon the dignity of my character, as a poor patriot, and not chosen to risk a suspicion of my independence. Being “Peach-Face,” and “Nice-One,” and missing your sister’s children, I might have ventured to express my regard; but how am I to appear before the rich lady and the Sultana? I suppose you never go out but in a covered litter, forty blacks clearing the way. Then you enter the bath, all of perfumed water, and beautiful attendant slaves, like full moons: after which you retire into a delicious apartment, walled with trellis-work of mother-of-pearl, covered with myrtle and roses, and whistling with a fountain; and clapping your hands, ten slaves more beautiful than the last serve up an unheard-of dinner: after which, twenty slaves, much more beautiful than those, play to you upon lutes; after which the Sultan comes in, upon which thirty slaves, infinitely more beautiful than the preceding, sing the most exquisite compliments out of the Eastern poets, and a pipe, forty yards long, and fresh from the Divan, is served up, burning with the Sultan’s mixture, and the tonquin bean. However, I shall come for a chop.

Dear Mr. Arthur,—I am called off in the midst of my oriental description, and have only time to say that I thank you heartily for your zeal and kindness in my behalf, and am sure Novello could not have chosen a second more agreeable to myself, whatever the persons concerned may resolve upon. I hope soon to shake you by the hand.

The following one affords a specimen of the manful way in which Leigh Hunt dealt with depression, and strove to be cheery for his friends’ sake, in acknowledgment of their friendship for him:—

To V. N. and M. S. N.
Paris, October 8th, 1825.

Dear Friends,—I can write you but a word. We shall
be in London next Thursday, provided there is room in the steamboat, as we understand there certainly will be; but we are not certain of the hour of arrival. They talk here at the agency office of the boats leaving Calais at two in the morning (night-time). If so, we ought to be in town at one. This, however, is not to be depended on; and there will not be time to write to you again. The best way, I think, would be to send a note for us (by the night post) to the place where the boat puts up, stating where the lodgings are. The lodgings you will be kind enough to take for us (if there is time) in the quietest and airiest situation you have met with. We prefer, for instance, the street in the Hampstead Road, or thereabouts, to the one in London Street, to which said street I happen to have a particular objection; said particular objection, however, being of no account, if it cannot be helped. Should any circumstance prevent our having a note at the boat-office we shall put up in the neighbourhood for the night, and communicate with you as fast as possible. . . . . I write in ill spirits, which the sight of your faces, and the firm work I have to set about, will do away. I feel that the only way to settle these things is to meet and get through them, sword in hand, as stoutly as I may. If I delayed I might be pinned for ever to a distance, like a fluttering bird to a wall, and so die in that helpless yearning. I have been mistaken. During my strength my weakness, perhaps, only was apparent; now that I am weaker, indignation has given a fillip to my strength. But how am I digressing! I said I should only write a word, and I certainly did not intend that that word should be upon any less agreeable subject than a steamboat. Yet I must add, that I remember the memorandum you allude to about the balance. I laid it to a very different account! Lord! Lord! Well, my dear
Vincent, you have a considerable fool for your friend, but one who is nevertheless wise enough to be, very truly yours,

L. H.

P.S.—Thanks to the two Marys for their kind letters. I
must bring them the answers myself. This is what women ought to do. They ought to be very kind and write, and read books, and go about through the mud for their friends.

The three next give an excellent idea of Leigh Hunt’s manner of writing to a friend suffering from nervous illness: by turns remonstrating, rallying, urging, humouring, consoling, and strengthening—all done tenderly, and with true affection for the friend addressed:—

To V. N.
30, Hadlow Street, Dec. 6th, 1825.

My dear Novello,—I expected you at Harry Robertson’s, and I looked for you last fine Wednesday at Highgate, and I have been to seek you to-day at Shacklewell. I thought we were sometimes to have two Sabbaths, always one, and I find we have none. How is this? If you are not well enough to meet me at Highgate, and will not make yourself better by coming and living near your friends somewhere, why I must come to you at Shacklewell on a Wednesday, that’s all; and come I will, unless you will have none of me. I should begin to have fears on that score, when I hear that you are in town twice a week, and yet never come near me; but in truth, coxcomb as I have been called, and as I sometimes fear I show myself when I talk of prevailing on my friends to do this and that, this is a blow which would really be too hard for the vanity of, and let me add, the affection of your ever true friend,

Leigh Hunt.

Will you not give us a call this evening, and at what time? Have I not a chop for a friend? And is there not Souchong in the town of Somers?

To Vincent Novello.
[No date.]

My dear Novello,—As I am not sure that you were at Mrs. Shelley’s last night, I write this to let you know that a violent cold, which I am afraid of tampering with any longer, has kept me at home the two last evenings, and will do the same on this. I defied it for some nights, but found myself
under the necessity, on every account, of doing so no longer. You know how bad it was on Wednesday; but Wednesday night’s return home made it worse. I repent this the more, because I wish to see you very much. I want to chat with you on the musical and other matters, and to assent to my privilege of a friend in doing all I can to make you adopt certain measures I have in view equally useful to both of us, for the recovery of your health. I said equally pleasant, and I trust and feel certain they would be so in the long-run; but undoubtedly in the first instance you might find them painful. However, as I never yet found an obstacle like this stand in your way when a friend was to be obliged, I give you notice that you have spoilt me in that matter, and that I shall not expect it now.

Hunt, you are very kind, but—” Novello, so are you; and therefore I do not expect to be put off with words. Besides, did I not have a long conversation the other evening with Mary? And did she not promise me, like a good wife as she was, not to listen to a word you had to say? I mean, against putting yourself in the best possible position for recovering your health. Or rather, did she not say, with good wifely tears in her eyes, that she would let you do all you pleased, which of course ties up your hands—only she hoped you would think as I did, if it was really as much for your good as I supposed—which of course ties them up more? And does not all that she has said, and all that I have said, and all that I mean to say, (which is quite convincing, I assure you, in case you are not convinced already, as you ought to be,) prove to you that you must leave that dirty Shacklewell, that wet Shacklewell, that flat, floundering and foggy Shacklewell, that distant, out-of-the-way, dreary, unfriendly, unheard-of, melancholy, moping, unsocial, unmusical, unmeeting, uneveningy, un-Hunt-helping, unimproper, un-Gliddony, un-Kentish-towny, un-Hampsteady, un-Hadlowincial, far, foolish, faint, fantastical, sloppy, hoppy, moppy, brickfieldy, bothery, mothery, misty, muddling, meagre, megrim, Muggletonian, dim, dosy, booty, cold-arboury, plashy, mashy, squashy, Old-Street-Roady, Balls-Pondy, Hoxtony, hurtful, horrid, lowering, lax, languid, musty, sepulchral, shameful,
washy, dim, cold, sulky, subterraneous, sub-and-supralapsarian, whity-brown, clammy, sick, silent, cheap, expensive, blameable, gritty, hot, cold, wheezy, vapourish, inconsequential, what-next?-y, go-to-beddy, lumpish, glumpish, mumpish, frumpish, pumpish, odd, thievish, coining, close-keeping, chandlering, drizzling, mizzling, duck-weedy, rotting, perjured, forsaking, flitting, bad, objected-to, false, cold-potatoey, inoperative, dabby, draggle-tailed, shambling, huddling, indifferent, spiteful, meek, milk-and-watery, inconvenient, lopsided, dull, doleful, damnable Shacklewell. Come, “I think here be proofs.”

Ever dear N.’s affectionate
L. H.

P.S.—I know not what Holmes thinks of Shacklewell; but he can hardly have an opinion in favour of it after this Rabelais argument. Clarke is bound to side with all friends at a distance.

To V. N.
Hadlow Street, 19th January, 1826.

My dear Novello,—Pray do not think that I did, or shall, or ever can feel angry at my friend’s ill-health. I have suffered bitterly from ill-health myself; and know too well, even now, what it is. If I have plagued you at all about Shacklewell, or anything else, I can do so no more when you talk to me thus; especially when I see you doing what you so much dislike, to gratify your friends. I recognize there my old friend triumphant, however he may suffer for a time. That you suffer extremely I doubt not, being in the agony of the passage from one mode of diet and living to another—a voyage enough to shake the most Ancient Mariner. But believe one who speaks from experience—that these things have an end. A little medicine will, I doubt not, do you good, especially if you follow it up with some appeals to natural remedies—such as walking, early rising, etc. Upon early rising (always speaking from experience) I think the very greatest stress ought to be laid, and I reserve this one subject to plague you upon—always provided that you get up to a warm fire and speedy and good breakfast. Do not
plague yourself till you are better about coming to me. I will, in the meantime, come to you on your own Sundays as well as mine, and I am sorry I cannot do so on Sunday next. Suffer not a moment’s uneasiness about the Lambs. They will set all down to the very best account, depend upon it; and, besides, you were as cheerful, and more so, than anybody could reasonably expect from a sick man; and your going away was no more than what
Lamb does himself.

The necessity of being heroical under nervousness, tensions of the head, and “other gentilities” (as Metastasio has it) is, says he, a great nuisance. But he got over them: so have I, and so will you; so have hundreds of others. The thing is common when people come to compare notes. Lady Suffolk, who had a head of this sort, and lived to see a tranquil old age, said she never knew a head without them “that was worth anything.” Think of that; and she knew the wits and poets of two generations. Love to dear Mary and dear Vincent.

From their truly affectionate friend,
Leigh Hunt.

The following was addressed to Mrs. Vincent Novello, when her husband and she and three of their children went to the seaside near Hastings:—

To the Queen of Little Bohemia.
Highgate, 1st August, 1826.

Gypsy,—I know not what there is in this word gypsy, but somehow or other it makes me very tender, and if I were near you, I should be obliged to turn round and ask Vincent’s permission to give you a considerable thump on the blade-bone. I believe it is the association of ideas with tents, green fields, and black eyes—a sort of Mahomedan heaven upon earth—very touching to my unsophisticated notions. I wish we were all of us gypsies; I mean all of us who have a value for one another; and that we could go seeking health and happiness without a care up all the green lanes in England, half gypsy and half gentry, with books instead of pedlary. I should prefer working for three or four hours of a
morning, if it were only to give the rest of the day a greater zest; then we would dine early, chat or read under the trees, tea early (I think we must have some tea), and so to stray about by starlight if it is fine, and sit and hug ourselves with the thought of being well sheltered from the rain on a dripping night. I don’t think we would have candles. Our hours should be too good. Up with the lark, fresh air, green bowers, russetin-apple cheeks—why the devil doesn’t the world live in this manner, or allow honest people to do so that would? Oh, but we must wait a long while first, if ever; and meanwhile we must have a great number of children (“
Leigh Hunt for instance—just so”), purely to worry ourselves about more than will ever do them any good; and we must have a vast number of fine clothes, and visitors, and cooks (to provide us with all the fever we have not got already), and Doctors, and gossips, and tabernacles, and cheese-cakes, and other calamities; and we must all sacrifice ourselves for our children, and they must all sacrifice themselves for theirs, and they for theirs, and so on to the third and fourth generation of them that worry us, wondering all the while (poor devils! both we and they) how it is that so much good love and good will (for there the sting lies, that the unhappiness should arise out of the very love on all sides) does not hit upon modes of existence a little discreeter. Only let the world come to me—leave me alone with him, as the lady said; and I’d teach him how to make his children grateful, what pleasures to substitute for his cookery, and how he should cultivate mind and muscle by a pleasing alternation. But I am getting moral, and I am sure I didn’t intend to be so. Don’t think ill of me. I intended in this letter to be all full of pleasure, as I should be if we could do as I say. As to the cookery and all that, I sometimes fear that the theories of Vincent’s friends (which, between you and my conscience, are much better than their practice) set him upon an extreme of diet which has done him no good, and which it might be to his advantage to contradict a little more. He did himself harm by great sudden gulps of dinner and tea (no man being less of a gourmand than he was), rendered more hurtful by long fasting and overwork; and I sometimes fear
he too suddenly went counter to all this. Well, patience is a rascally necessity, as the poet said, and he has enough of it; but patience is rewarded at last. We have such miraculous accounts in the newspapers of cures of the spirits as well as body effected by the gymnastic exercises now spreading abroad, that I cannot help wishing Vincent would give them a trial when he returns; especially as in spite of the fat he had, I remember he used to be very active, and a vaulter over gates. So now, gypsy, stand in awe of me and my knowledge (which is what I like on the part of the sex), and then, suspecting me nevertheless to be not a jot more awful than yourself (rather the reverse, if you knew all), give me the most insolent pinch of the cheek you can think of (which is what I like much better), and in spite of all my airs and assumptions, keep for me one of the little corners that a large heart like yours possesses, and there let me occupy it when I please, with “dear
Mr. Arthur,” and dearer Statia, and one or two others who would willingly hold the rest of it, and its inmate among them, in their affectionate arms, till he got well and made us all happy again.

Ever most truly yours,
Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—Pray write again speedily, and we will be better boys and girls, and rewrite instantly. . . . Oh, the letters of Lady Suffolk and the Genlis which you ought to have had long ago. I send them now, with one or two other works which I think may amuse you, and a proof-sheet of an article of mine (the Dictionary of Love and Beauty), which you must take with all its mistakes of the press on its head. . . . Marianne begs her kindest remembrances. She is very well and in excellent spirits, with the exception of a swollen eye, given her by that mysterious personage called a Blight. I tell her it looks very conjugal; and yet I am sure I ought not to tell her so, but I may tell her that it is “all my eye.” Do you remember the Merry Wives of Tavistock? Statia and she are at present the Merry Wives of Highgate. We only want the other Tavistock one in good spirits again to beat the Windsor ones hollow.


The next is a very characteristic example of one of his playful notes of invitation:—

To V. N., Great Queen Street.
Sunday morning, 27th Dec. [Query 1828].

My dear Vincent,—Tho’ it is very proper that people should go out in cold weather to see their friends, it does not appear to me quite so proper that they should go out after dinner as before; ergo, this comes to say that I hope, in consideration of the frost and snow, you will come at three to-morrow instead of five. I will treat you exactly as you treated me, therefore there is to be no excuse on that score. If anybody prefers it, I will not treat them so well; they shall have a cold potatoe at a sideboard, with their feet in a pail of water. So pray come. Our meeting will be two hours the earlier; and not to dine with me, under all the circumstances, would be indecent.

Ever truly yours,
Leigh Hunt.

COME AT 3 (a placard yell, or Clarke whisper).

P.S.—I find that my exactly is not quite exact. There is to be a piece of boiled beef to-morrow; but then we have mutton to-day, which will be conveniently cold for those who prefer the worse fare. By the way I hope you all like boiled beef. I think I recollect that you and Mary do, but not so sure of the Clarkes. I must presume, with them, upon the ground of its being generally liked.

The three following, being sent from “Cromwell Lane,” are grouped together; but no date being affixed to them, it is difficult to trace the period when they were written:—

To M. S. N. (66, Queen Street.)
Cromwell Lane, Dec. 23rd, Wednesday.

Dear Mary,—By a miraculous chance I slept from home on Monday night, and did not get your letter till the night following; so that you must consider this as an answer by return of post. I shall come with the greatest pleasure to-
morrow at three and pay my respects to you all, and to my old friend Bacchus senior. Is there any Septuor? However, that is not necessary. There will at all events be a Quatuor (you and
Vincent, Charles Clarke and Victorinella), and any two of you would make a good duet, to say nothing of a soul-o. I am glad you like my verses so well. Marianne begs her love and hopes to see you soon. It is lucky that I had not time to be tempted into the Requiem, for besides what you say, there are too many thoughts on certain subjects pass thro’ my mind on these occasions, and put me into a state unsuitable both to the dignity of my philosophy and the cheerfulness of my hopes; so there is a pretty sound period for you. I shall compliment myself by saying that I should have felt the Requiem too much as Mozart did himself; and greatly for the same reason; to wit, that my liver is not in good condition. If it be thought too vain to have even a liver in common with Mozart, tell Vincent it is owing to his flattery of me in the postscript. To be serious I never see his hand but it seems to come with a blessing upon me, like that of one of your Catholic priests,—only sincere:—a Thais, only not vicious. You remember, I suppose, whose pleasant passage this last sentence alludes to.

Dear Wilful (for I cannot part with any of my old ways) I am heartily thine.

Leigh Hunt.
To M. S. N.
Cromwell Lane, Feb. 18.

Dear Mary,—You have seen by the Tatler how acceptable your critical epistle was; but how you must have wondered, with all your breakfast-table, at the signature “Manthele”! I have fancied you have been saying fifty times in your heart, “What the devil does he mean by ‘Manthele’”?—for ladies, you know, do say “what the devil” in their hearts, though it may not be quite bad enough for their tongues. (There; that is a dramatic surprise for you, very ingenious; for you thought I was going to say “not quite good enough,” which I own would have been less proper.) Well, Manthele should have been Melanthe (dark flower): I
thought “an amateur” not so well, because it is pretty to see ladies’ letters distinguished by ladies’ names, and so I thought I would give you a nice horticultural one, such as you would like; and I wrote or rather printed it in capitals, that there might be no mistake; and Mr. Reynolds tells me that he saw it right in the proof. He says the letters must have subsequently fallen out, when going to press, and been huddled back loosely. Never apologize, dear Mary, about books: for then what am I to do? Keep them, an you love me, and I shall think I am obliging somebody. Do you know there is somebody in the world, who owes me tenpence? It is a woman at Finchley. I bought two-pennyworth of milk of her one day, to give a draught to
Marianne; and she hadn’t change; so I left a shilling with her, and cunningly said I should call. Now I never shall call, improvident as you may think it: so that upon the principle of compound interest, her great-great-grandchildren or their great-great, or whichever great it is, will owe my posterity several millions of money. This, I hope, will give you a lively sense of the shrewdness which experience has taught me. Love, love, and ten times love, to dear Vincent.

Ever sincerely yours,
Leigh Hunt.
Thursday night, Cromwell Lane.

Dear Victoria,—(For I have been used to call you so, Mary being your name in heaven, but Victoria that upon earth—
In heaven yclept “my own Mary,”
But on earth heart-easing Vic.)
I conclude from
Charles’ letter and your own searching eyes, that you saw the announcement of the verses in the Tatler. Be good enough therefore to inspire your husband, if you please, with some of his best rhymes on the spot, for a reason which he will tell you; and believe me,

For your kind words and attentions,
Your truly obliged friend,
Leigh Hunt.

The two next short notes are given as specimens of Leigh Hunt’s affectionate, bright, off-hand style of writing a mere few lines to his friends:—

To M. S. N.
Wednesday, July 11.

Dear Novella,—Many thanks for your lemons, and many more for your inquiries and kind attentions. We have had some heart-tugging work since I saw Novello in the streets. Both Mary and baby have been in danger, the former for a short time, the latter moaning for two nights and a day with the anguish of acute inflammatory fever:—but you know all this sort of trouble, and more: nor would I say anything to bring any more tears into your eyes, but that I owe you a true account how we go on; and even tears are good things in this world, after a time:—they help to melt us all into one heart. God bless you and all our friends. I hope to enjoy them again shortly, and still reckon myself getting better.

Your affectionate friend,
Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—The danger is now over.

To Charles Cowden Clarke.
Saturday, Dec. 29, 66, Great Queen Street.

Thou Cowden,—Will you vouchsafe to step down here, and confer with me half an hour or so respecting a certain unborn acquaintance of yours yclept the Companion?—and if you cannot come directly, will you say at what hour before 8 o’clock you can come; or whether you can or cannot come at all this afternoon?—for time presses upon a project I have in my head, because of the New Year.

Truly yours,
L. H.

The next is a notelet that drolly mimics the flourishing and superlative style used in Italian letter-writing, and gives a whimsically literal translation of “Cowden” into “Spelonca delle Vacche:”—

To. C. C. C.
[No date.]

(Address:) All ’ornatissimo Signore il Signor Carlo Spelonca delle Vacche,

Signor Carlo,
Amico mio osservantissimo,

Have you heard anything of this confounded quarterly payment? (Don’t you like this plunge out of the Italian amenity into Damme-by-G-d English?)

Very sincerely yours,
L. H.

The following is an exquisite example of a poet-friend’s candour in criticism and even objection, combined with the most refined and affectionate praise, when sent a MS. copy of some of the verses that subsequently were printed in a small volume entitled “Carmina minima:”—

To C. C. C
5, York Buildings, New Road, Dec. 13th.

My dear Clarke,—I beg your acceptance of a copy of my book. I do not send one to Vincent, because tho’ he is one of the few friends to whom one of my few copies, sent in this manner, would otherwise have gone, he is among its patrons and purchasers, and therefore, I must, even out of my sense of his kindness, omit him. But tho’ it is not altogether out of his power to stretch a point for me in this way with his purse, I dare to tell you that I know it to be yours and that your generosity, equally real with his but unequal to show itself in the same manner, will give me credit for understanding you thoroughly and believing that you understand me. I appeal to it also, with hand on heart, for giving me entire credit when I say, that the sonnet in which you were mentioned, and the one mentioning himself, were omitted solely in consequence of the severe law I had laid down for myself in selecting my verses (as you will see in the Preface), and which, much against my will, forced me to throw out others
relating to a variety of my friends. I am still, however, to be inspired with better ones, if they insist upon overwhelming me with amiableness and being illustrious. Pray tell him all this. Now let me tell you that there is real poetry in some of the verses you have sent me, and that I have read them over and over again. There are one or two points which might be amended perhaps, in point of construction, and it is a pity, I think, that you have made the Fairy so entirely serious at the close of his song,1 as to say “Oh, misery!” He should have

1 We append the following copy of this “Song.”

Gone are all the merry band! Gone
Is my Lord—my Oberon!
Gone is Titania! Moonlight song
And roundel now no more
Shall patter on the grassy floor.
And Robin too! the wild bee of our throng,
Has wound his last recheat—
Oh fate unmeet!
The roosted cock, with answering crow,
No longer starts to his “Ho! ho! ho!”
For low he lies in death,
With violet, and muskrose breath
Woven into his winding-sheet.
And now I wander through the night,
An old and solitary sprite!
No laughing sister meets me;
No friendly chirping greets me;
But the glow-worm shuns me,
And the mouse outruns me.
And every hare-bell
Rings my knell;
For I am old,
And my heart is cold.
Oh misery!
Alone to die!
died like Suet, between sorrow, astonishment, and jest, and he might have perished of frost, because there was no longer any fireside for him. But the idea of a “Last of the fairies,” is excellent, and the treatment of it too, especially down to the words I have quoted, from the line beginning “the roosted cock.”

“Robin Goodfellow’s winding-sheet” is worthy of Keats. I admire also the first eight lines of the sonnet beginning “I feel my spirit humbled,” only you should not have said “small as is the love I bear you:” you want to say such as is the value of it; and this is not what the other words can be made to imply. At least I think so. The allusion to the “room” is good. How good is truth, and how sure it is to tell! I have always admired, my dear Clarke, the way in which you took your fortunes, and the wise-heartedness with which you found out the jewel of good at the core of them, and known how to cherish it. It has made you superior to them, and gives you an advantage which many richer persons might envy. God bless you both, and all of you, and believe me,

Your affectionate friend,
Leigh Hunt.

Next come two delightful Chaucerian discussions; together with a kindly criticism of an early-written story, by M. C. C. called “First Love;” and an amusing imitation of Johnsonian talk:—

To C. C. C. & Vincent Novello, Frith Street.
Chelsea, Feb. 11th.

Ever Dear Clarke and Vincent,—I have been going to write to Frith St. not only for the last ten days, but for the last ten weeks; but my health is so unceasingly tried by my pen, that when necessity allows me to lay it down, it costs me such efforts to resume it, as must throw themselves on the indulgence of kind friends. I rejoiced to hear of the intention about Chaucer, but so far from wondering at your leaving out the passages you speak of, I may perhaps bespeak,
your astonishment in return when I tell you, that I am not sure I have ever entirely read even the stories in question; I mean those in which
Swift is horribly mixed up with La Fontaine; so much do I revolt from those kind of degrading impertinences, in proportion to the voluptuousness I am prepared to license. And yet I ought to beg pardon of divine Chaucer for using such words; for his sociality condescended to the grossness of the time, and was doubtless superior to it, in a certain sense, at the moment it included it in his good-natured universality. They may even have been salutary, for what I know, by reason of certain subtle meetings of extremes between grossness and refinement, which I cannot now speak of.

What good things they were, Clarke, in some of those verses you sent me; and yet what a strange fellow you are, who with such a feeling of the poetical, and a nice sense of music, can never write a dozen lines together without committing a false quantity—leaving out some crotchets of your bar. You almost make me begin to think that Chaucer wrote in the same manner, and not, as I have fondly imagined, with syllabical perfection. I am glad you did not dislike my criticism; and you too, dear Vincent. I send Clarke one or two more, which I have cut out of periodicals. Item, another True Sun, merely because it contains a mention of him, and may amuse him in the rest. He will see by it that Christianity is getting on, and that Blackwood and I, poetically, are becoming the best friends in the world. The other day, there was an Ode in Blackwood in honour of the memory of Shelley; and I look for one to Keats. I hope this will give you faith in glimpses of the golden age.

You may have seen a popular edition of the “Indicator” advertised; I mean with omissions. It is not mine, but Colburn’s, or I should have had copies to load my friends with, whereas I have been obliged to be silent about it to some of my oldest and nearest. What am I then to do in your house? I must, for the present (for I still hope to do better), cut the gentlemen, and confine myself, with a pleasing narrowness, to the lady—I beg pardon, to Mary, to whom I beg kindest remembrances, and her acceptance of the book
she christened. Dear
Vin, I think of you all, be assured, quite as often as you think of me. What have I to do, sitting, as I do, evening after evening by myself in my study, but to think of old times and friends, and attempt the consolation of a verse? May you all be very happy is the constant wish of

Your affectionate friend,
Leigh Hunt.
To C. C. C.
4, Upper Cheyne Row, July 18th.

I was much obliged to you for your letter, and rejoice to see that you continue to like the journal; but as to prejudice, thou Cowden, against “the Siddons,” I disclaim it, and do accuse thee (proof not being brought) of prejudice thyself in the accusation. The prejudice is nature’s;—what think you of that?—for I have no pique against the Kembles, excepting that they were an artificial generation, and their sister, with all her superiority, a sort of “mankind woman” as the old writers phrase it.

But now to better things,—Chaucer and first love; and first of the first; for love forbid that love should not go before Chaucer, seeing that love made Chaucer himself, or ought to have done so, and certainly made him a poet. I have read it twice, and both times with emotion. The only fault I find is that the uncle, under the circumstances, would not have stuck to his vow. He would at the utmost have gone to his rector or bishop with a case of conscience, and the bishop would have told him it was a wicked thing to stick to such a vow. As to the rest, all I say is, that the writer deserves to be a man’s first love and his last.

What you say about Lyonnet makes me “pause and wonder;” yet I cannot help thinking that it was unworthy of “his greatness” to put himself into such a state of fume and energy for such an object. What need had he to prove his energy, and by rope-dancing? Conceive the time it must have taken, and the grave daily joltering practice, an immortal soul (as an old divine or Johnson might have phrased it) bobbing up and down every day, with a grave face, and with
nothing better before it to warrant its saliences than the hope of beating a fellow at a fair! Sir, he had much better have taken Mrs. Lyonnet by the hand, and danced a pas-de-deux with her.

Boswell. There is a grace in that dance, sir.

Johnson. Yes, sir, and it promotes benevolence.

Boswell. And yet you would not have it danced every day, sir,—not with so formal a recurrence,—not as a matter of course.

Johnson. Why, no, sir; not ex-officio; not professionally; not like the clock, sir. Sir, I would not have a man horologically saltatory. An impulse should be an impulse, and circumstances should be considered besides.

Boswell. You have danced yourself, sir?

Johnson (with complacency). Yes, sir; (then with a shrewd look) though people would not easily suppose it. (Then rising with a noble indignation.) But, sir, I did not dance on the rope, like this Lyonnet, I left that to the paltry egotism of Frenchmen, fellows that think nothing too small to be made mighty by their patronage, that go and write the lives of caterpillars. . . .

I will come on Sunday week, if you will be good enough to let me know the hour.

Can you lend me for a day or two your copy of “Adam the Gardener”? I want to extract the description of the rainstorm for next Wednesday week.

Ever truly yours,
Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—I have omitted to speak of the Chaucer MS. after all. But you will see I had not forgotten him, either in MS. or letter. I need not repeat how I like your project, and as little, I am sure, need I apologize for the little corrections suggested in the preface.

The following is one of his courageous struggles against ill-health and its consequent feeling of dejection; determining to take comfort from friendship and his own power of cheerful rallying:—

To M. S. N.
4, Upper Cheyne Row, Chelsea, April 15th.

What shall I say to dear Mary for being so long before I reply to her kind letter? What but that I have a bruised head, and am always full of work and trouble, and always desiring to write such very long answers to kind letters, that seem as if I should never write any. I once heard Hobhouse say a good thing—much better than any he ever said in Parliament—to wit, that the only real thing in life was to be always doing wrong, and always be forgiven for it. Is not that pretty and Christian? For my part I cannot always be doing wrong; I have no such luck; on the contrary, I am obliged to waste a great deal of time in doing much which is absolutely right,—nay, I am generally occupied with it all day, so strange and unpardonable is my existence. And yet this putting off of letters is a very bad thing; I grant my friends have much to forgive in it, so I hope they will forgive me accordingly, and think I am not so very bad and virtuous after all. As to being “venerable,” however, I defy anybody to accuse me of that, and they will find some difficulty in persuading me that you are so. Venerable! why it’s an Archdeacon that’s venerable, or Bede, the oldest historian—“Venerable Bede”—or the oldest Duke or Viscount living, whoever he is, the “venerable Duke” of the newspapers. What time may do with me I cannot say, but it shall at any rate be with no consent of mine that I become even aged, much less venerable, and therefore I have resolved not to fear being so, lest fear make me what I fear. Alas! I fear I am not wholly without misgivings while I say it, for white hairs are fast and fearfully mingling with my black, and I fear that my juvenility is all brag. I have told Clarke that I have none remaining, and I fear that is more like the truth than these ostentations, that is to say, in point of matter of fact, for as to matter of fancy I love and desire just the same things as I did of old, read the same books, long for the same fields, love the same friends (whatever some of these may think), and will come and hear dear little Clara sing (great Clara now) whenever you give me notice that you have an evening for me; for here I sit, work, work, work,
and headache, headache, headache, at the mercy of “Copy” and Printer’s Devils, and am not blissful enough to be able to risk the loss of an evening by finding you from home. With love to dear

Ever your affectionate,
Leigh Hunt.

The allusion in the postscript of the next letter refers to an Italian gentleman’s having told M. C. C. that he rather liked a London fog than not, inasmuch as it allowed of two dawns a day,—one at sunrise, the other when the fog lifted off and cleared away from the sky:—

To M. C. C.
Chelsea, December 15th.

My dear Victoria,—Though my head is so beaten with work just at this instant as to be no better than a mashed turnip, and though I am not aware that I have any thorough right to make you pay threepence because I am grateful, yet being apt to obey impulses to that effect, I am unable to forbear thanking you for your very nice and kind letter, so well written because you have a brain, and so warmly felt because you have a heart. I love your love of your mother, and of your husband, and of all other loveable things, and as a lover of them all myself shall think it no impertinence, especially as they give me leave, to beg you to continue to keep a little corner in your heart for the love of

Your affectionate friend,
Leigh Hunt.

P.S.—I enjoy heartily your Italian’s “perfection of playful sophistry.” Happily do you describe it; and yet see what a really different thing he makes a fog from those who do nothing but grumble at it, for everything is nothing but a result of our sensations, and the more pleasant we can make this, how lucky we! There is a poor hand-pianoforte playing at my window this moment the song of “Jenny Jones,” and now “The Light of Other Days,” I believe it is
called. But I have got such a delicious abstract idea of a “Jenny Jones” of my own (which I intend to embody in words), and there is something which falls so sweetly on some part of my feelings from the other air too, that tears between sadness and pleasure come into my eyes. God bless you nice hearty people, you Clarkes; and so no more at present from yours till death.

The next two refer to the “Legend of Florence:” the interesting evening of its “second reading “having been described at page 86. The sentence respecting the “MS.” refers to the fifth Act of the “Legend of Florence” as originally written by its author, which gave a different close to the play from the one given in the acted and printed versions. The copy of this original fifth Act, which Leigh Hunt permitted M. C. C. to make from his own manuscript, is still in our possession, appended to his presentation copy of the first printed edition of the play.

To C. C. C. and M. C. C., Dean Street.

My dear Clarke,—I want you both particularly tonight to stand by me in my readings to some new friends (very cordial people nevertheless). This is my second reading of my play, and I am to have a third, and I mix up new and old friends together when I read, though indeed of dear old friends I retain very few out of the claws of Death or distance, and those in Dean Street, despite of the perplexities of this beautiful world (which keep apart sometimes those who sympathize most), have ever been among the dearest to your affectionate friend,

Dear Charles and “Molly,”
L. H.
To M. C. C., Dean Street.
Chelsea, Feb. 20th, 1840.

My dear Victoria—Do not think me ungrateful for
either of your kind and most welcome notes in having thus hitherto delayed to answer them. The conclusion of the first brought the tears into my eyes, which, I assure you, the exclamations it speaks of, delightful as they were, did not; such a difference is there between a public idea and “the distinct and ascertained affection of a private one. But I have not even yet recovered from the hurry and perplexity of an exquisitely overwhelming correspondence, and I delayed copies of the play to your father and you two (for I am not yet rich enough to offer it the only desirable divorce between you, that of giving you a book apiece) till I could send the second edition, which contains the proper acknowledgment of the music he was so kind as to send me, and which I expect to be out every day, and the MS. of the act you so naturally prefer shall come at the same time. Meanwhile (with
Charles’ leave) pray let me give you in imagination the half dozen kisses which you would certainly have had to undergo, as others did, had you been near me on that occasion. I suppose your mother does not care for them, or for me, as she does not send me a word. Well, never mind, I’ll sulk and try to do without her. And yet, somehow, give her my love to vex her; and to everybody else that is loving, and grasp Charles’ hand for me till he cries out.

Your affectionate friend,
L. H.

The following seven afford samples of Leigh Hunt’s fascinating mode of implying complimentary things in what he said to those honoured by his regard. He had a perfectly charming mode of paying a compliment; a mode that inspired the ambition to be all he imputed, and that tended to exalt and improve the object of his praise. A remark that I (M. C. C.) once overheard him make at a dance of young people upon my dancing was such as to call forth a proud feeling quite other than that of mere gratified vanity: it caused me to dance with better grace and spirit ever after. On another occasion,
he said:—“I always know how to call the light into Victorinella’s face,—by speaking of her husband.” I may here cite a specimen of the playful kind of direction to which I have previously alluded, as one that he sometimes put outside a letter. This I now speak of contained a press-order for the theatre; and the direction ran thus:—“To Mrs. Clarke,
Mr. Novello’s, Frith Street, Soho.” (Then, written in minute characters):—“Private, especially the outside. Written suddenly out of a loving and not a petulant impulse. Why don’t female friends, and other friends, take walks to see their sick friends,—especially when they live near the Hampstead fields again? I hope this question won’t be considered base from one who sends orders for theatres, which, it seems, are considered favours out in the world. I know nothing of what is out in the world, but it is not my fault if I wish to see the pleasant people in it. Hallo, though! I forgot I have not been lately to Frith Street. The above therefore, has not been written. ‘There’s no such thing!’”

To M. C. C.
Kensington, April 27th.

Cowdenia mia,—I am afraid you must have thought it very strange, my not sooner answering your kind and most welcome letter with its good news about the Concordance; but we have all been in such a state here with influenza and measles, etc., that a sort of cordon sanitaire was drawn round us, and even the people in Church St. (naturally enough, Heaven knows, considering how they have suffered) were afraid of having anything to do with us, or receiving even a book from us at their doors; so it made us take ourselves for a set of the most plaguey invalids possible, people wholly to be eschewed and eschewing. The girls, however, being at length about and Vincent himself, who has been longest in bed of any, I think we may venture to think of a remote knock at some person’s door; and the consequence is, that here comes to you
and Carlo mio a little
book, which has been waiting for you these three weeks. It does not contain quite all that even I would have had inserted; and most unluckily the Nile, and the song which your father set, have got out of it purely by an accident of delay arising out of my wish to improve them. Au reste, I have always regretted that I could not retain that Sonnet to Keats in which Charles was mentioned, because it really was unworthy of both of them; so I have taken an opportunity of mentioning en passant your dear good husband in the Preface. Tell him, if he never saw my Sonnet on the Fish and Man before, I bespeak his regard for it. How rejoiced I was to see the specimen of the Concordance! Item, to hear of the admirable impulse felt by the lady when she heard the Sonnet about the lock of hair. Vide the Rondeau at page 155, for the impulse turned into fact,—a very pretty example, let me tell you, for all honest female friends, especially Cowdenians. I say no more. Verbum sat.; which means a word to the womanly.

Ever dear Charles and Victoria’s
Affectionate friend,
To M. C. C.
Kensington, February 17th.

Vittoria mia,—(For you know I always claim a little bit of right in you, Caroli gratiâ) I think I have repeated the remark you speak of more than once, and yet I cannot remember anything more like it at present than in some passages in the accompanying “Recollections of a dead body” in the Monthly Repository, pages 218, 219; which book I accordingly send you. I still think, however, there must be a passage somewhere else, and I will look for it, and if I find it, send it off directly. With love to dear Clarke, Believe me, ever affectionately yours,

Leigh Hunt.
To M. C. C.
Kensington, February 18th.

My dear Victoria,—I send you overleaf the manifest passage. Your clue (“the end of a paragraph”) enabled me
to find it almost instantly at p. 20 of the
London Journal. Sempre Clarke-issimo.

L. H.

“We see in the news from Scotland, that at the interment of the venerable widow of Burns (Bonnie Jeannie Armour, who we believe made him a very kind and considerate wife) the poet’s body was for a short time exposed to view, and his aspect found in singular preservation. An awful and affecting sight! We should have felt, if we had been among the bye-standers, as if we had found him in some bed, in the night of Time and space, and as if he might have said something! grave but kind words of course, befitting his spirit and that of the wise placidity of Death, for so the aspect of death looks. A corpse seems as if it suddenly knew everything, and was profoundly at peace in consequence.”

To M. C. C. (with vignette of Burns’s House).

Victorianina Diavolina,—Friday by all means. I will be with you all on ditto at 2 o’clock. Greatly pleased am I at hearing that Charles is to be at home, for I began to think I should never see him till this time next century. Herewith come the woodcuts I spoke of. We will talk farther of the subject when we meet, and then I will put down, on the spot, any memorandums you like. I shall quite look forward to Friday.

Ever, you devilish good people,
Most truly yours,
Leigh Hunt.
To M. C. C.
Kensington, September 27th.

Cara Vittoria mia,—I address this to you, because I conclude it is more likely to find you at home, and because being so much of a one-ness with your husband I suppose you could act for him as well as if he were on the spot, and send me the little book I ask for in case he happens to possess a copy. It is the Literary Pocket-book (if you remember such a thing) containing the collection of the sayings of
Beau Brummel, under the title of “Brummelliana.” A gentleman who is writing a life of him has sent to me to borrow it, and my own copy has disappeared. I need not say, that I should stipulate with the gentleman to take every care of it, and that at all events I would become personally responsible for its return. And so with best blessings to both of you (for tho’ not a Papist I am Catholic in all benedictory articles) I am ever, dear Victoria,

Your and his faithful friend,
Leigh Hunt.
To M. C. C.
Kensington, October 21st.

Victorianellina carina, buonina,—You must have thought me a strange dilatory monster all this while; but in the first place, my Keatses (as usual) were all borrowed, so that I had to wait till I could get one of them back. In the second place, I did so, the fullest (Galignani’s); when lo! and behold, there was no Nile Sonnet! ergo, in the third place we commenced a search amongst boxes and papers, Mrs. Hunt being pretty sure that she had got it “somewhere;” but unfortunately, after long and repeated ransacking, the somewhere has proved a nowhere. Now what is to be done? I have an impression on my memory that all the three Sonnets were published in the Examiner, and as your father has got an Examiner (which I have not) perhaps you will find it there. I regret extremely that I cannot meet with it, particularly as I was to be so much honoured. Shelley’s comes on the next page. Oh, what memories they recall! I am obliged to shut them up with a great sigh, and turn my thoughts elsewhere. The Brummelliana came back with many thanks. There is to be a book respecting the poor Beau, which doubtless we shall all see. Tell Charles I have been getting up a volume called “True Poetry,” with a prefatory essay on the nature of ditto, and extracts, with comments, from Spenser, Marlow, Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, Milton, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. I know he will be glad to hear this. It is a book of veritable pickles and preserves; rather say, nectar and ambrosia; and there is not a man in England
who will relish or understand the Divine bill of fare better than he. With kindest love ever his and yours,

Leigh Hunt.
To M. C. C.
Kensington, November 12th.

Victorianellinuccia,—You would have heard from me earlier in the week than this, had I not been suffering under a cold and cough of such severity, that it affected the very muscles of my neck to a degree which rendered it painful for me to do anything with my head but to let it lie back on the top of an armchair, and so direct its eyes on a book and read. Of all kinds of approbations of my scribblements—nay, I will call them writings in consideration of their sincerity and their approvers—there is none that ever pleases me so much as those like Mr. Peacock’s; and I beg you to make him my grateful acknowledgments, as well as to accept them yourself for sending them to me in a letter so delightful. As to any violation of modesty in your showing me what he says of you, in the first place there is no such violation; and secondly, if there could be, it is the privilege of women so really modest (and the wicked exquisites know it) to be able to set this modesty aside on occasions gloriously appropriate, and so make us love it the more on all others. With cordial remembrances to your traveller,

Your ever affectionate
Leigh Hunt.

The next two are charmingly characteristic of the writer.

To V. N.
Kensington, 25th February, 1843.

My dear Vincent,—Lēmŭrĕs sometimes called Lēmŭrs (as in Milton, Ode to Nativity,—
“The Lārs and Lēmurs moan with midnight plaint”) is accented on the first syllable. The Lemurs were the departed souls of the wicked, as the Lars or Lares were those of the good; so the former came and bothered people, while the latter befriended them. A fellow who leaves us his malediction, and does not leave us his money, is a Lemur. An
old lady, who was tiresome in her life, and who says that her spirit will watch over the premises to see we behave properly is a sort of fair Lemur; for she candidly gives us notice to quit.

I have been going to write to you every day to thank you for your kind present of the music, before hearing it, and in despair, just now, of hearing it properly. You recollect you asked me to give you my opinion after hearing it. How can I doubt, however, that it will be very delightful, considering who selected and harmonized it? The next time I see you I hope to be able to speak from the particular experience.

Ever, my dear Vincent,
Your affectionate old friend,
Leigh Hunt.
To V. N.
32, Edwardes Square, 2nd July.

My dear Vincent,—I am so hard driven just at this moment, that I can but afford a hasty word of thanks even for such presents as yours and dear Mary’s (to whom pray give an embracing word for me); but I need not entreat you to believe, that that word contains a thousand kind thoughts. As to coming to see you, it is what I long for; but with the exception of one unavoidable engagement for next Saturday week, I have been obliged to “cut” all my friends, as far as visiting them goes, till my new play is finished (don’t you feel a particularly great gash? for the “cutting” is of necessity proportioned to the love). On the other hand, I take it particularly kind of them, if they in the meantime come to see me, while resting of an evening after my work (for the going out to visit after dinner knocks me up for the next day). Impudently, nay lovingly then, let me request you to do so, and Clarke also, and dear Vic, if they, or she, or all of you, or each, or either, will come (I have two loves of the name of “Vic” now, Clarke and Prince Albert permitting!) Tea will be always ready for you any time between six and eight, and hearty thanks. From your affectionate friend,

L. H.

P.S. The moment my play is finished, I will come, and
come again, as fast as possible. Tell
Clarke my new study is very snug and nice, and that I have a bit of vine over my window. Bid him make haste and see it.

The following breathes all his old affectionate spirit of friendship and hope for the best:—

To M. S. N.
Phillimore Terrace, Kensington,
August 4th (probably 1851).

My dear Mary,—Your letter, full of warm and most welcome old friendship, to say nothing (which means much) of the box of my favourite sweetmeats, came like a beam of sunshine upon a house full of trouble; for your husband’s namesake had been taken suddenly ill. . . . . But we have all experienced these sorrows in the course of our lives, so I will say no more of them.

Truly, in spite of anxiety, did I rejoice to think of your southern rest, and our patient’s condition has made us doubly desirous to hear more of a place, where you so naturally wish to have more old friends near you, and where we should be so willing to find ourselves. . . . We might pass some months perhaps at Nice, or some longer time, as cheaply as we live in this neighbourhood (where, by the way, I have not yet seen the exhibition, so anxious have I been!) . . . . . A thousand recollections of past times often spring up in my mind, connected with yourselves and other friends, all loving, and wishing I could have made them all happy for ever. But some day I believe we shall be so, in some Heavenly and kindly place. Meantime, just now, I shall dry my eyes, and fancy myself with you at Nice, imitating some happy old evening in Percy Street. We would have a little supper, precisely of the old sort, and fancy ourselves not a bit older in years; and “Victoria” if she were there, should put on a pinafore to help the illusion; and we would repeat the old jokes, and at all events love one another and so deserve to have all the happiness we could. Now is not this a thing to look forward to, in case I can take the journey? Marianne, who sends cordialest greetings, looks up with a bright eye at what
you say about rheumatism, and asks me if it is possible we could go? “Possible.” I do not know whether it is, till I hear and see further; but I will seriously hope it not otherwise; and at all events it is a thought with too many good things in it to give up before we must. Kindest remembrances to all around you, and a happy meeting somewhere still on earth, should Nice not allow it. What charming things are in your
daughter’s Shakespearian books.

Your ever affectionate friend,
Leigh Hunt.

The two next felicitously hit off a combination of business seriousness with old-acquaintance kindliness:—

Hammersmith, May 8th,
Monday morning, 10 o’clock.

Dear Alfred,—Your letter has only this moment reached me. You will find the parody on the next leaf; at least it is all which I recollect, and to the best of my recollection there was really nothing more. It is not masterly, tho’ not unamusing. I don’t know the author.

Yours ever,
L. H.
Gently stir and blow the fire,
Lay the mutton down to roast;
Dress it quickly, I desire;
In the dripping put a toast;
Hunger that I may remove;
Mutton is the meat I love.
On the dresser see it lie;
Oh, the charming white and red!
Finer meat ne’er met my eye;
On the sweetest grass it fed.
Let the jack go swiftly round;
Let me have it nicely brown’d.
To J. A. N.
7, Cornwall Road, Hammersmith, Decr. 13th.

My dear Alfred—(For, notwithstanding your jovial proportions and fine bass voice, I have danced you on my knee when a child, and Christmas topics and dear old memories will not allow me, out of very regard, to call you “sir”) I enjoyed exceedingly your kind recollection of me and the place which you gave that Christmas effusion of mine in the midst of all those harmonious advertisements. I seemed to be made the centre of some great musical party. I see also my dear old friend “C. C. C.” as touching and cordial as ever.

I need not say how heartily I return your Christmas wishes. I have had a great sorrow to endure of late years—one that often seemed all but unbearable—but it is softening, and I never, thank God, wished any other person’s happiness to be less during it, but greater. How desirable then to me must be the happiness of my friends.

I take this opportunity of asking a question which I have often been going to put to some one acquainted with musico-commercial affairs, of which I am totally ignorant; will you tell me at one of your leisure moments (if such things there be) whether a man of letters like myself could purchase a musical instrument with his pen, instead of his purse; that is to say, for such and such an amount of literary matter, verse or prose, or both, as might be agreed upon? and if so, what sort of matter would be likeliest to be required of him?

Should you be ever wandering this way, and would give me a look in (I have tea and bread and cheese ready for anybody from 6 o’clock onwards), I have long had a musico-literary project or two in my head which possibly you might not be unwilling to hear of.

Ever sincerely yours,
Leigh Hunt.

In the following two there are traces of the cordial sincerity with which Leigh Hunt praised and encouraged
the attempts of other writers. The MS. “Lecture” was lent to him for perusal, and he returned it scored with approval marks and valuable marginal remarks. This was a delightful mode he had of manifesting his interest in and careful reading through of such works as his friends had written; and so precious were his pencilled notes of this kind to the writer of “
Kit Bam’s Adventures,” and “The Iron Cousin,” that she asked him to follow the plan suggested by the crafty magician in “Aladdin,” and to “exchange old lamps for new ones,” sending her back his well-worn presentation copies of the two books in question, for which she sent him fresh copies. In consequence of his kind compliance with her wish, we now possess the first-sent copy of “Kit Bam,” inscribed “to the grown-up boy, Leigh Hunt,” which contains numerous marginal pencilled comments; one of which (playfully written on the page where is described a vision of the dead Felix Morton with his wife and child wafted to the sky), runs thus:—“A mistake. The ‘father’ of the winged child is still alive; and for that matter, the rogue of a charming writer who brought him forth; I shall not say who, as we happen not to be married. F. M. sen.” This was Leigh Hunt’s pleasant mode of referring to a confession I (M. C. C.) had made him when I sent him the book, that I once upon a time had heard him say a pretty idea for a story would be that of a child born with wings, owing to the strong yearning of his mother to reach a distant place constantly within her view but beyond her attainment, and that I had adopted the idea and had ventured to work it out in this story. We also possess the copy of “The Iron Cousin” scored repeatedly by Leigh Hunt, and on the blank pages at the end of which he has written in pencil:
—“There is no story (so to speak) in this book; the explanation to which the lovers come, they might have come to much sooner (the fault most common perhaps to novels in general), and the illiterate persons in it, not excepting the Squire, often make use of language too literate. Nevertheless, to a reader like myself, who prefers character and passion out and out to plot or to a thorough consistency on those minor points, the book is very interesting. Its descriptive power is of a kind the liveliest and most comprehensive; its powers of expression are still rarer,—very rare indeed either with man or woman, the latter particularly; so well has the authoress profited by her long and loving abode in the house (for ‘School’ does not express the thing) of
Shakespeare; and what is rarest of all, there is some of the daintiest and noblest love-making (and love-taking) in it, which I can recollect in any book.” The reader will, we trust, forgive the seeming egoism of giving this transcription, for the sake of the genuine thought of Leigh Hunt himself and his generous commendation which filled our heart as we copied out the faint pencilled traces, so precious to us that when we first received them we passed them through milk to prevent their being rubbed out by time;—

To C. C. C.
Hammersmith, Novr. 19th, 1854.

My dear Clarke,—I have been thinking of the Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream, hoping the lecture is going to be delivered at some reachable place, fearing I might not be able (owing to a cough and catarrh) and wondering whether it would be possible to hear it here some evening, in this my hut, between tea and supper, I being the sole poor, but grateful audience. Such things you must know have been, though I don’t at all assume that they can be in this
instance, however great the good will. But if not, might I read it? I need not tell you that it would be perused in strictest confidence, except as far as you might allow me to speak of it.

Nothing is more just, though I say it who should (one likes to give impudent baulks sometimes to prudish old sayings), than what you think in regard to my critical sincerity. I love too much to praise where I can, not to preserve the acceptability of the praise by qualifying when I must.

Besides, half my life has been, and is, a martyrdom to truth, and I should be absurd indeed to stultify it with the other half. My faults have enough to answer for without being under the necessity of owning to any responsibility in the lying and cheating direction; but where am I running to? I always, as far as I had the means of judging, took your wife to be a thoroughly loving woman (if I may so speak) in every particle of her nature; and I hold it for an axiom, though exclusives in either the material or spiritual would count it a paradox, that it is only such persons who can have thoroughly fine perceptions into any nature whatsoever. In other words, incompleteness cannot possibly judge completeness. So with this fine peremptory sentence I complete this very complete letter of four sides down to the cover, and with all loving respect,

My dear Clarke,
Am hers and yours,
Leigh Hunt.
To M. C. C.
Hammersmith, January 8th, 1855.

Victorianellina amabile e carina,—Very pleasant to me was the sight of your handwriting, yet so much the more unpleasant it is to be forced to write to you briefly. The address of the London Library is 12, St. James’ Square. Circumstances have conspired to hamper me with three books at once, the “Kensington” aforesaid, a collection of my “Stories in verse” with revisals, new Preface and a continuation of my autobiography. The consequence is that
I have been overworked in the midst of severe cold and cough (the latter the longer and rather severest I have yet had, for cough I always have) and thus I am able only to continue the reading of
Charles’ lecture, attractive as it is, by driblets (availing myself of the additional time he gave me, though not all of it), and am forced still to postpone writing to Alfred. Give, pray, my kindest remembrances to him. Tell him I tried hard to write an article for the Musical Times by the 20th of December, but could not do it; that I wished very much to begin the New Year with him; that I still purpose to go on (having more than one special object in so doing); that I will recommence the very first moment I can; and that meantime I rejoice to see the honour done to my Christmas verses by Mr. Macfarren’s music. I have not heard it, for I have heard nothing but the voice of booksellers and the sound of my pen and my lungs; but I shall make the first acquaintance with it feasible, and look to it as a greeting at the close of some toilsome vista.

Dear Victoria, Mary, or whatsoever title best please thine ear, I am ever the sincere old friend of you and yours,

Leigh Hunt.

I need not say how heartily I reciprocate your Christmas wishes.

In the Autumn of 1856, when we were going abroad, to live in the milder climate of Nice, we went to take leave of dear Leigh Hunt at his pretty little cottage in Cornwall Road, Hammersmith. We found him, as of old, with simple but tasteful environments, his books and papers about him, engravings and plaster-casts around his room; while he himself was full of his wonted cordiality and cheerful warmth of reception for old friends. The silvered hair, the thin pale cheek, the wondrous eyes, were no less beautiful in their aged aspect than in their youthful one; while his charm of manner was, if anything enhanced by the tender softening of years. We,—who
could well remember the brilliancy and fascination of his bearing in youthful manhood, the effect of bright expectant pleasure attending his entrance into a company, the influence of his general handsomeness with refined bearing and beauty of countenance, especially the vivacity and sparkling expression of his eyes, still so dark and fine, though with a melancholy depth in them now,—felt as though he were even more than ever beautiful to look upon. It was perhaps an unconscious consciousness (if the expression may be allowed) of this personal attractiveness on his own part, which lent that ease and grace and self-possession to his demeanour which was always so inexpressibly winning: it arose not from self-complacency so much as from imagination and instinctive feeling of its giving him a pleasant ascendancy over those whom he addressed. This ascendancy it was that inspired the childish impulse (previously recorded) to creep round the back of the sofa and lay a loving cheek on his resting hand,—that hand so slender, so white, so true a poet’s hand. It was this ascendancy that often thrilled the little girl’s heart with a fancy for wishing to nurse his foot, as she watched its shapely look, and lithe tossing to and fro in the earnestness of his talk. It was this innate personal ascendancy peculiar to Leigh Hunt that exercised its amplest sway when we went to bid him good-bye in 1856. The ring of his hair was worn on this occasion, and shown to him between two hoops of pearl as the “black diamond” treasured in our family; he, taking the incident in his own tenderly gracious way and with his own gift of tenderly recognizant words.

After we left England we received several letters from him, among which were the two following:—

To C. C. C.
7, Cornwall Road, Hammersmith, July 7th, 1857.

My dear friends—Dear Clarke and dear Mary Victoria,—(for you know I don’t like to part with the old word) the first letter from Nice came duly to hand; but for the reason kindly contemplated by itself, I could not answer it at the moment, and the same reason made me delay the answer, and now still makes me say almost equally little on that particular point, except that I sigh as I am wont to do from the bottom of my heart, and thank you with tears for the privilege of silence accorded me.

Were it not for dear friends and connexions still living, I should now feel as if I belonged wholly to the next world; but while they remain to me, or I to them, I must still do my best to make the most of the world I am in, in order to deserve their comfort of me during the remainder of my progress to that other; where I do believe that all the wants which hearts and natures yearn to be lovingly made up, will be made up, as surely as in this world fruits are sounded and perfected (final short-comings of any kind being not to be thought possible in God’s works) and where “all tears will be wiped from all faces.” Why was any text inconsistent with that, ever suffered to remain in the book that contains it? But I am talking when I thought to become mute. Be you mute for me. I shall take your silence for dumb and loving squeezes of the hand. Winter here has been as severe with us, after its severer kind, as it has been with you in the midst of its lemon-blossoms and green peas. I hope your summer has turned out as proportionately excellent, and then you will have had a summer indeed; for we have been astonished at our June without fires, and our continuously blue weather. Your walks are noble truly, and would be wonderful if you had not a companion; a thing which always makes me feel as if I could walk anywhere and for ever; that is to say, if anything like such a companion as yours, but doubtless stoppings would occasionally be found desirable, especially at inns, or where “si vende birra” “Strada Smollett” is delightful. By-and-by there will be
such streets all over the world. People will know, not only the name of a street, but the reason for it, “and by the visions splendid,” be “on their way attended.” Let who else will live in “
Smollett Street,” Matthew Brambles, and Randoms, and Bowlings will be met there by passengers, as long as the name endures. I see the last, turning a corner with little Roderick in his hand, hitching up his respectable, bad-fitting trousers, and jerking the tobacco out of his mouth at the thought of unfeeling old hunkses of grandfathers. Your finale respecting Burns was to good final purpose; and I do not wonder at its exciting the applause of the genial portion of his countrymen; for such only would be the portion to come to your lectures. They must have felt it like an utterance of their own hearts, let free for the first time; at least, thus publicly. To find fault with Burns is to find fault with the excess of geniality of Nature herself; which, tho’ like the sun it may do harm here and there, or seem to do it in its hottest places, is a universal beneficence, and could not be perhaps what it is without them. Nor are those irremediable to such as are in Nature’s secrets, or “to the matter born.” The life of Burns by Robert Chambers, a serene and sweet-minded philosophic kind of man, is undoubtedly, as you say, the best of all the lives of him. . . . . I long to see the fifteen famous women,1 and am truly obliged by the desire expressed to the publisher to send it me. It is impossible they should be in better hands than in those of the bringer-up of the women of Shakespeare; people, that make a Mormon of me; and, with your leave, a Molly—as well as a Polygamist. Indeed with the help of another l, the latter word might express both. You see you have made me a little wild, with the compliment paid to my portrait. But I am no less respectful at heart; as in truth you know; otherwise I should not be where you have put me. So I feel new times and old mingled beautifully together, with the champagne once more over my hair, and all kindly nights and mornings, and outpourings of heart as well as wine, and

1 In allusion to “World-noted Women,” written by M. C. C. for Messrs. Appleton, of New York, in 1857.

laughters and tears too, that make such extremes meet as veritably seem to join heaven and earth and render the most transient joys foretastes of those that are to last for ever.

Ah me! Thus preach I my first sermon to loving eyes from my wall in Maison Quaglia, at Nice.

The other day I got news at last of the safe arrival of my box of books and manuscripts (for the American press) at Washington, Pennsylvania, which it had reached by a circuitous progress thro’ other Washingtons, caused by my ignorance of there being any other Washington than one, and so having omitted the Pennsylvania. One London, I thought, one Washington; forgetting that London is a word of unknown meaning, therefore who cares to repeat it? Whereas Washington was a man, of whom men are proud; and hence it seems, there are 70 Washingtons! All goes well with my “works” (grand sound!) and they are to come out, both in verse and prose, the former forthwith; and special direction shall be sent to Boston for all being forwarded duty free to Maison Quaglia, in return for my “fifteen women” (strange, impossible sound of payment!) so I do not send you the list you speak of, meantime; only I should be glad to know what prose works of mine you may happen to possess at present, in case, if the publication of them in America be comparatively delayed, I may be able to send you some of them, such as I think you would best like; for there is a talk of republishing those in England. Besides, I need room for an extract which I had got to make for Victoria from my friend Craik’sEnglish of Shakespeare.” I must not even stop to enjoy with you some quotations from Drayton and Jonson, but I must not omit to congratulate you both, and everybody else, on the new edition of Shakespeare, especially as I reckon upon her turning her unique knowledge of him to dainty account in her Preface, and would suggest to that end (if it be not already in her head) that she would let us know what particular flowers, feelings, pursuits, readings, and other things great and small he appears to have liked best. Other people might gather this from her Concordance, but who so well as she that made it? Therefore
pray let her forestall those who might take it into their heads to avail themselves of the information afforded them by that marvellous piece of love and industry. But to the extract: . . . . Shall I send my copy of it to Nice? It would interest editorship and occasion would be found to say a grateful and deserved word for it in the introduction to
Julius Caesar. I lend the “Iron Cousin” to all understanding persons, and they are unanimous in their praises. Item.—I trust to read and mark it again, myself, shortly. Loving friends, both, I am your ever loving friend,

Leigh Hunt.
To “Mr. and Mrs Cowden Clarke” as men call them.
To Charles and Mary-Victoria among the Gods.
Feb. 4th, 1858, Hammersmith.

My dear Friends,—Tho’ it was a very delightful moment to me when I was again received by the house in that manner—far more delightful, for reasons which you may guess, than when I was first received, (with such strange memories sometimes will the brain of a poor humanist be haunted) yet the crown of the crown of congratulation is, after all that which one receives from families and old friends; terrible nevertheless, as the absence is of that which one misses. Bitter was the moment, after that other moment, when on returning home, I could not go first of all, and swiftly, into one particular room. But I ought to give you none but glad thoughts, in return for the gladness which you have added to mine. I had several times reproached myself for not writing to thank certain most kind remembrances of me in Musical Times, and then (as always seems to be the retributive case) comes this loving congratulation, before I have spoken. But work is mine, you must know, still and ever, and must be so till my dying day, only leaving me too happy at last, if I do but render it as impossible for any one individual in private to mistake me, as it seems to be with the blessed public, for whom, as I sometimes feared, might be the case, I have not gone through my martyrdoms (such as they are) in vain. Great, great indeed was my joy when they seemed as it were, at that moment, to take me again, and in a special
manner, into their arms, the warm arms of my fellow-creatures. And now come yours, my dear friends, about me as warmly. Imagine me returning them with an ardour of heart, which no snows on my head can extinguish.

A few weeks ago there came to me from a certain pleasant-named house in New York a most magnificent book, full of handsome ladies, and better comments upon them, which till this moment I have thanked neither publishers nor authoress for, having wished to read it thro’ first in order to thank properly. My acknowledgments for it go accordingly to Nice and New York at the same time. The ladies are somewhat too much of a family, and of a drawing-room family, especially in the instances of the divine peasant, Joan of Arc, of lovely-hearted Pocahontas, who must still have been a Cherokee or Chickasaw beauty, and of what ought to have been the “beautiful plain” face of your Sappho. What a pity the artist had not genius enough in him to anticipate the happy audacity of that praise! The finery of her company I think, (for she seems to have guessed what sort of a book the publishers would make of it) has seduced our dear Mary-Victoria into a style florider and more elaborate than when she poured her undressed heart out in the charming “Iron Cousin” (my copy of which by the way, has just come home to me again in beautiful relaxed and dignified condition from its many perusals); but still the heart as well as head is there, and I have read every bit of the book with interest; unbribed, I cannot add, seeing what abundant warm-hearted reminiscences of me it contains; too many for it, I should have feared a little while ago; but not just now, for the promised edition of my “poetical works” has come out at Boston, and being welcomed with as universal cordiality in America, as my play has been by the press in London (for such you must know in addition to my reception on the stage, is the fact: at least so I am told, and have reason to believe; for I possess upwards of twenty eulogies from daily and weekly newspapers and reviews, and I hear there are half as many more, which I am yet to see). What think you of this unexpected (for indeed I never looked for it) winter-flowering, and in the two
hemispheres at once? An American friend of mine, who is one of the Secretaries of legation here, tells me, that there is but one exception to the applause in his country, and this in a penny paper; so at all events that amount of drawback is not worth twopence. No: it is not he who tells me,—first tho’ he was to give me the good news. I learn it from my other American friend, the editor of the “Works” who is going to feast the transatlantic half of my vanity with a collection of the praises; some of which, he adds, will make my “very heart leap within me.” Heaven be thanked for it.

And now you have seen a certain “Tapiser’s Tale,” which accompanies this letter—oh, but my vanity must not forget to add,—nay, my hope of solid good must not forget to add,—and unspeakable joys hanging thereon, that the manager anticipates a “long run” for the play, and says also, that he will, “carry it in triumph thro’ all the provinces.” Item, I have reason to hope, that he will bring out one, perhaps more, of certain MS. plays which I have by me, and for which I never expected any such chance; and furthermore I think there is playable stuff in them—and so—and then—why, it is not impossible, verily, that I may have a whole golden year of it; alas! that any sighs should mix with that thought, but it is wholesome that they should do so, to prepare me for disappointment. There would even be a certain sweet in them then. There are faces that in that case would not be so much missed.

But to return to the Tapiser. Here is a bold venture; bold to send to anybody and anywhere, but boldest of all to such Chaucerophilists as live at Nice. Luckily their love is equal to their knowledge; so extremes will meet in this as in other cases; and positively I trust to fare best where under less loving circumstances I might have had least reason to expect it. Besides, the subject is so beautiful in itself that a devout Chaucer student could not well take all interest out of it with the sympathetic.

So I shan’t fear that you will make any very heavy retaliations for what I have ventured to object up above; especially as in reference to the great poet, I am prepared to bow to any speeches of shortcoming that may be objected, saving
something in behalf of the wet eyes with which the tale was written . . . . It has appeared in
Fraser’s Magazine, and prospered.

Dear friends, imagine me blessing you both from the place which I occupy in your house, my house, you know, as well as your own. What if I should be able to see it some day, with eyes not of spirit only?

Your ever loving friend,
Leigh Hunt.

Little more than a twelvemonth elapsed after the above words had been written ere we heard of Leigh Hunt’s death. We felt that one of the most salutary and pleasurable sources of influence upon our life was withdrawn, and a sense of darkness seemed to fall around us. Our regret at his loss inspired us with the following verse tribute to his memory:—

Two Sonnets
On hearing of Leigh Hunt’s Death.

The world grows empty: fadingly and fast
The dear ones and the great ones of my life
Melt forth, and leave me but the shadows rife
Of those who blissful made my peopled past;
Shadows that in their numerousness cast
A sense of desolation sharp as knife
Upon the soul, Iperplexing it with strife
Against the vacancy, the void, the vast
Unfruitful desert which the earth becomes
To one who loses thus the cherished friends
Of youth. The loss of each beloved sends
An aching consciousness of want that dumbs
The voice to silence,—akin to the dead blank
All things became, when down the sad heart sank.
And yet not so would thou thyself have view’d
Affliction: thy true poet soul knew how
The sorest thwartings patiently to bow
To wisest teachings; that they still renew’d
In thee strong hope, firm trust, or faith imbued
With cheerful spirit,—constant to avow
The “good of e’en things evil,” and allow
All things to pass with courage unsubdued.
Philosophy like thine turns to pure gold
Earth’s dross; imprisonment assumed a grace,
A dignity, as borne by thee, in bold
Defence of liberty and right; thy face
Reflected thy heart’s sun ’mid sickness, pain,
And grief; nay, loss itself thou mad’st a gain.