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Recollections of Writers
Leigh Hunt to Charles Cowden Clarke, [1819]

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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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.