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Leigh Hunt to Vincent and Mary Sabilla Novello, 9 January 1824

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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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.