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Recollections of Writers
Leigh Hunt to Charles Cowden Clarke, 7 July 1857

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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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.