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name was to them little known ; but they were not of a temperament that needed names-their souls were athirst for poetry, and there they found it. The reading of that day was an epoch in their lives. There was a life, a freshness, a buoyant charm of subject and of style, that carried them away from the sombre heaths and wastes around them to the sunshine of Italy-to gay cavalcades and sad palaces. Hours went on, the sun declined, the book and the story closed, and up rose the three friends, drunk with beauty, and with the sentiment of a great sorrow, and strode homewaris with the proud and happy feeling that England was enriched with a new poet. Two of those three friends have for more than five and thirty years been in their graves; the third survives to write this article.
For forty years and more from that time the author of Rimini has gone on adding to the wealth of English literature, and to the claims on his countrymen to gratitude and affection. The bold politician, when it required moral bravery to be honest; the charming essayist; the poet, seeming to grow with every new effort only more young in fancy and vigorous in style—he has enriched his country's fame, and his country has not altogether forgotten him. Since the former edition of this work was published, à pension of 2001. a-year has been conferred on him.
We have the authority of Mr. Leigh Hunt himself, in a memoir written six and forty years ago, for the fact that he was born in 1784, at Southgate. His parents were the Rev. J. Hunt, at that time tutor in the family of the Duke of Chandos, and Mary, daughter of Stephen Shewell, merchant of Philadelphia, whose aunt was the lady of Mr. President West. Thus the poet was by his mother's marriage nearly related to the great American painter; and here, he says, he could enlarge seriously and proudly ; but this boasting, it Burns out very characteristically, is not of any adventitious alliance with celebrated names, but of a truer and more happy cause of gram tulation :—* If any one circumstance of my life could give me cause for boasting, it would be that of having had such a mother. She was, indeed, a mother in every exalted sense of the word-in piety, in sound teaching, in patient care, in spotless example. Married at an early age, and commencing from that time a life of sorrow, the world afflicted, but it could not change her: no rigid economy could hide the native generosity of her heart, no sophistical skulking injure her fine sense, or her contempt of worldly-mindedness, no unmerited sorrow convert her resignation into bitterness. But let me not hurt the noble simplicity of her character, by a declamation, however involuntary. At the time when she died, the recollection of her sufferings and virtues tended to embitter her loss; but knowing what she was, and believing where she is, I now feel her memory as & serene and inspiring influence, that comes over my social moments only to temper cheerfulness, and over my reflecting ones to animato me in the love of truth."
That is a fine filial eulogy; but still finer and more eloquent has been the practical one of the life and writings of the son. Whoever
ce from that
knows anything of these, perceives how the qualities of the mother ola bromid have lived on, not only in the grateful admiration of the poet, but shule ya se un his character and works. This is another proud testimony added niso the numerous ones revealed in the biographies of illustrious men,
of the vital and all-prevailing influence of mothers. What does not mis tag iche world owe to noble-minded women in this respect ? and what
lo not women owe to the world and themselves in the consciousness cof the possession of this authority? To stamp, to mould, to animate in so good, the generation that succeeds them, is their delegated office. i They are admitted to the co-workmanship with God; his actors in
he after age are placed in their hands at the outset of their career, vhen they are plastic as wax, and pliant as the green withe. It is
hey who can shape and bend as they please. It is they as the their gries;
moung beings advance into the world of life, as passions kindle, as tager desires seize them one after another, as they are alive with
ndour, and athirst for knowledge and experience of the great scene 2th of Erf existence into which they are thrown—it is they who can guide, itude and 2 varn, inspire with the upward or the downward tendency, and cast jert to be be, hrough them on the future ages the blessings or the curses of good with Premier r evil. They are the gods and prophets of childhood. It is in
he has ells hem that confiding children hear the Divinity speak; it is on them Spher furnite hat they depend in fullest faith; and the maternal nature, engi afted ublished, s pon the original, grows in them stronger than all other powers of life.
he mother in the child lives and acts anew ; and numberless genev Leigh Eations feel unconsciously the pressure of her hand. Happy are
für shey who make that enduring pressure a beneficent one; and, though to rent
themselves unknown to the world, send forth from the heaven of linke of China sheir hearts poets and benefactors to all future time.
Philips It is what we could hardly have expected, but Leigh Hunt is ve the pot escended of a High Church and Tory stock. On his father's side Am is ancestors were Tories and Cavaliers, who fled from the tyranny
la f Cromwell, and settled in Barbadoes. For several generations made iey were clergymen. His grandfather was rector of St. Michael's, map Bridgetown, Barbadoes. His father was intended for the same in * rofession, but being sent to college at Philadelphia, he there com
Sienced, on the completion of his studies, as a lawyer, and married. og was, again, curious, that the Revolution occurring, the conserva
la sve propensities of the family broke out so strong in him, as to to use him to flee for safety to England, as his ancestors had formerly
ed from it. He had been carted through Philadelphia by the infueated mob, only escaped tarring and feathering by a friend taking Wie opportunity of overturning the tar-barrel set ready in the street,
d, being consigned to the prison, he escaped in the night by a
tribe to the keeper. On the arrival of his wife in England, some acter, me afterwards, she found him who had left America a lawyer, now
chet clergyman, preaching from the pulpit, tranquillity. Dir. Hunt inimbems to have been one of those who are not made to succeed in the
rinrld. He did not obtain preferment, and fell into much distress. at one time he was a very popular preacher, and was invited by the
uke of Chandos, who had a seat near Southgate, to become tutor
she died me embitter le she is larten t comes outinct er mjmiasto
U finer said writings d'
to his nephew, Mr. Leigh. Here he occupied a house at Southgate called Eagle Hall ; and here his son, the poet, was born, and was named after Mr. Leigh, his father's pupil.
Mr. Hunt, in his autobiography, describes his mother as feeling the distresses into which they afterwards fell very keenly, yet bearing them patiently. She is represented as a tall, lady-like person. 3 brunette, with fine eyes, and hair blacker than is seen of English growth. Her sons much resembled her.
At geven, Leigh Hunt was admitted into the grammar school of Christ's Hospital, where he remained till he was fifteen, and received a good foundation in the Greek and Latin languages. Mr. Hunt describes very charmingly the two houses where, as a boy, he used to visit with his mother ; one of these being that of West, the painter, who had married his mother's aunt,—the aunt, howerer, being much of the same age as herself; the other was that of Mr. Godfrey Thornton, of the great mercantile house of that name “How I loved,” says Leigh Hunt, “the graces in the one, and erery. thing in the other! Mr. West had bought his house not long. I believe, after he came to England; and he had added a gallery at the back of it, terminating in a couple of lofty rooms. The gallery was a continuation of the hall passage, and, together with the rooms, formed three sides of a garden, very small, but elegant, with a rigplot in the middle, and busts upon stands under an arcade. In the interior, the gallery made an angle at a little distance as you went up it; then a shorter one, and then took a longer stretch into the two rooms; and it was hung with his sketches and pictures all the way. In a corner between the two angles, and looking down the lower part of the gallery, was a study, with casts of Venus and Apollo on each side of the door. The two rooms contained the largest of the pictures ; and in the further one, after stepping softly down the gallery, as if respecting the dumb life on the walls, you generally found the mild and quiet artist at his work ; happy, for he thought himself immortal.” West, it is well known, was brought up a Quaker, and had been so poorly educated that he could hands read. Leigh Hunt states his belief that West did a great deal of work for George III. for very little profit; then, as since, the honour was thought of itself nearly enough.
“ As Mr. West," continues Leigh Hunt, “was almost sure to be found at work in the farthest room, habited in his white woollen gown, so you might have predicated, with equal certainty, that Mrs West was sitting in the parlour reading. I used to think that if I had such a parlour to sit in, I should do just as she did. It was good-sized room, with two windows looking out on the little garden I spoke of, and opening into it from one of them by a flight of steps The garden, with its busts in it, and the pictures which you klic were on the other side of its wall, had an Italian look. The room was hung with engravings and coloured prints. Among there was the Lion's Hunt, by Rubens; the Hierarchy, with the Godbezd, by Raphael, which I hardly thought it right to look at ; and two screens by the fireside, containing prints from Angelica Kauffman, of the
Loves of Angelica and Medoro, which I could have looked at from Her norning till night.” kembasHere Mrs. West and Mrs. Hunt used to sit talking of old times his father ind Philadelphia. West never made his appearance, except at dinner biarkan mind tea time, retiring again to his painting-room directly afterwards; There but used to contrive to mystify the embryo poet with some such
question as, “ Who was the father of Zebedee's children ?” “The metalk," he says, " was quiet ; the neighbourhood quiet ; the servants Ciup quiet; I thought the very squirrel in the cage would have made a
- greater noise anywhere else. James the porter, a fine athletic fellow, mas at
.. who figured in his master's pictures as an apostle, was as quiet as
he was strong. Even the butler, with his little twinkling eyes, full Grecka
of pleasant conceit, veuted his notions of himself in half tones and ting whispers."
* The house of the Thorntons was a different one, and a more 1 bis 3* socially attractive place. “There was quiet in the one; there were age is baie beautiful statues and pictures ; and there was my Angelica for me, e med at with her intent eyes at the fireside. But, besides quiet in the other, 3 1101. - 9. there was cordiality, and there was music, and a family brimful of
West 631 - bospitality and good-nature; and dear Almeria T., now Mrs. P- e, 'stland, in who in vain pretends that she is growing old. Those were indeed PELLET holidays on which I used to go to Austin Friars. The house, accordmaoni, bu ing to my boyish recollections, was of the description I have been torre ever fondest of; large, rambling, old-fashioned, solidly built; resemmatics bling the mansions about Highgate and other old villages. It was
furnished as became the house of a rich merchant and a sensible jika ani man, the comfort predominating over the costliness. At the back th his was a garden with a lawn ; and a private door opened into another to garden, belonging to the Company of Drapers ; so that, what with start to the secluded nature of the street itself, and these verdant places
behind it, it was truly rus in urbe, and a retreat. When I turned fortes down the archway, I held my mother's hand tighter with pleasure,
and was full of expectation, and joy, and respect. My first delight moje se was in mounting the staircase to the rooms of the young ladies,
setting my eyes on the comely and sparkling face of my fair friend, guno with her romantic name, and turning over, for the hundredth time, * the books in her library."
The whole description of this charming and cordial family is one
of those beautiful and sunny scenes in human life, to which the centras heart never wearies of turning. It makes the rememberer exclaim:
-_“Blessed house! May a blessing be upon your rooms, and your
hal lawn, and your neighbouring garden, and the quiet old monastic licated name of your street; and may it never be a thoroughfare; and may
all your inmates be happy! Would to God one could renew, at a moment's notice, the happy hours we have enjoyed in past times, with the same circles, in the same houses !”.
But & wealthy aunt, with handsome daughters, came from the West Indies, and Great Ormond-street, and afterwards Merton, in Surrey, where this aunt went to live, became a new and happy resort for him.
doms det from wit t, and the all, had cukuru u Sum he Hierzze me te
* from da
After Leigh Hunt quitted Christ's Hospital, of which, and of the life there, he gives a very interesting description, at the age of sixteen was published a volume of his schoolboy verses. He then spent some time in what he calls “that gloomiest of all darkness pol. pable'”-a lawyer's office ; he became theatrical critic in a newly established paper, the News ; and his zeal, integrity, and talent, formed a striking contrast to the dishonest criticism and insufferable dramatic nonsense then in public favour. In 1805, an amiable nobleman, high in office, procured him an humble post under Gorernment; but this was as little calculated for the public spirit of honest advocacy which lived in him as the lawyer's office. He soon threw it up, having engaged with his brother in the establishment of the well-known newspaper, the Examiner. The integrity of principle which distinguished this paper, was as ill-suited to the views of Government at that dark and despotic period, as such integrity and boldness for constitutional reform were eminently needed by the public interests. He was soon visited with the attentions of the Attorney-General ; who, twice prosecuting him for libol, branded him “malicious and ill-disposed person." It is now matter of astonishment for what causes such epithets and prosecutions were bestowed by Government at that day. On one occasion, in quoting the fulsome statement of a hireling court scribe, that the Prince Regent “looked like an Adonis," he added the words “ of fiftymaking it stand “the Prince looked like an Adonis of fifty!” There were other plain remarks in the paper, but this was the sting, and this was cause enough for prosecution, and an imprisonment of two years in Horsemonger-lane jail. It was here, in 1813, that Lord Byron and Moore dined with him. They found him just as gay, happy, and poetical, as if his prison was a shepherd's cot in Arcadich and there was no such thing as “an Adonis of fifty" in the world. The “ wit in the dungeon," as Lord Byron styled him in some verses of the moment, had his trellised flower garden without, and his books, busts, pictures, and pianoforte within. Byron has recorded his opinion at that time of Mr. Hunt, in his journal, thus :-"Hunt is an extraordinary character, and not exactly of the present age. He reminds me more of the Pym and Hampden times : much talent, great independence of spirit, and an austere, yet not repulsive aspect. If he goes on qualis ab incepto, I know few men who will deserve more praise, or obtain it. He has been unshaken, and will gontinue so. I don't think him deeply versed in life: he is the bigot of virtue (not religion), and enamoured of the beauty of that empty name,' as the last breath of Brutus pronounced, and every iay proves it."
What a different portrait is this to that of the affected, finicking, artificial cockney, which the critics of that day would fain have made the world accept for Leigh Hunt. Lord Byron was a man a the world as well as a poet; he could see into character as well as anybody when there were no good natured souls at his elbow to alarm his aristocratic pride. He was right. Mr. Hunt has gone on qualis ab incepto; and deserved and done great things. The