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The soldier, whose deeds live immortal in story,
With transport would barter old ages of glor
at the time of the American war, he espoused the British interest with so much warmth, that he had to leave the new world and seek a subsistence in the old. He took orders in the church of England, and was sometime tutor to the nephew of Lord Chandos, near Southgate. His son (who was named after his father's pupil, Mr Leigh) was educated at Christ's Hospital, where he continued till his fifteenth year. “I was then, he says, “first deputy Grecian; and had the honour of going out of the school in the same rank, at the same age, and for the same reason as my friend Charles Lamb. The reason was, that I hesitated in my speech. It was understood that a Grecian was bound to deliver a public speech before he left school, and to go into the church afterwards; and as I could do neither of these things, a Grecian I could not be.’ Leigh was then a poet, and his father collected his verses, and published them with a large list of subscribers. He has himself described this volume as a heap of imitations, some of them clever enough for a youth of sixteen, but absolutely worthless in every other respect. In 1805, Mr Hunt's brother set up a paper called the News, and the poet went to live with him, and write the theatrical criticisms in it. Three years afterwards, they established, in joint partnership, the Examiner, a weekly journal still conducted with distinguished 422
This yard I shut in with green palings, adorned it with a trellis, bordered it with a thick bed of earth from a nursery, and even contrived to have a grass plot. The earth I filled with flowers and young trees. There was an apple-tree from which we managed to get a pudding the second year. As to my flowers, they were allowed to be perfect. A poet from Derbyshire (Mr Moore) told me he had seen no such heart's-ease. I bought the “Parnaso Italiano” while in prison, and used often to think of a passage in it, while looking at this miniature piece of horticulture:–
Mio picciol orto,
My little garden,
battle with the world, and apply himself steadily to worldly business, as he was to dress his garden and nurse his poetical fancies. and has been contending with them ever since.
He fell into difficulties, On leaving prison he published his Story of Rimini, an Italian tale in verse, containing some exquisite lines and passages. He set up also a small weekly paper called the Indicator, on the plan of the periodical essayists, which was well received. He also gave to the world two small volumes of poetry, Foliage, and The Feast of the Poets. In 1822 Mr Hunt went to Italy to reside with Lord Byron, and to establish the Liberal, a crude and violent melange of poetry and politics, both in the extreme of liberalism. This connexion was productive of mutual disappointment and disgust. The “Liberal’ did not sell; Byron's titled and aristocratic friends cried out against so
* Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries, vol. ii. p. 258.
plebeian a partnership; and Hunt found that the noble poet, to whom he was indebted in a pecuniary sense, was cold, sarcastic, and worldly-minded. Still more unfortunate was it that Hunt should afterwards have written the work, Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries, in which his disappointed feelings found vent, and their expression was construed into ingratitude. His life has been spent in struggling with influences contrary to his nature and poetical temperament. The spirit of the poet, however, is still active and cheerful, as may be readily conceived from perusing the following set of blithe images in a poem written in December 1840, on the birth of the Princess Royal.
Behold where thou dost lie,
In 1840 Mr Hunt brought out a drama entitled
A Legend of Florence, and in 1842 a narrative poem, The Palfrey. His poetry, generally, is marked by a profusion of imagery, of sprightly fancy, and animated description. Some quaintness and affectation in his style and manner fixed upon him the name of a Cockney poet; but his studies have lain chiefly in the elder writers, and he has imitated with success the lighter and more picturesque parts of Chaucer and Spenser. Boccaccio, and the gay Italian authors, appear also to have been among his favourites. His prose essays have been collected and published under the title of The Indicator and the Companion, a Miscellany for the Fields and the Fireside. They are deservedly popular—full of literary anecdote, poetical feeling, and fine sketches both of town and country life. The egotism of the author is undis
guised; but in all Hunt's writings, his peculiar
tastes and romantic fancy, his talk of books and flowers, and his love of the domestic virtues and charities (though he has too much imagination for his judgment in the serious matters of life), impart a particular interest and pleasure to his personal disclosures.
[May Morning at Ravenna.] [From “Rimini.) The sun is up, and ’tis a morn of May Round old Ravenna's clear-shown towers and bay. A morn, the loveliest which the year has seen, Last of the spring, yet fresh with all its green; For a warm eve, and gentle rains at night Have left a sparkling welcome for the light, And there's a crystal clearness all about ; The leaves are sharp, the distant hills look out;
A balmy briskness comes upon the breeze;
The days were then at close of autumn still,
To T. L. H., Sic Years Old, During a Sickness.
Sleep breathes at last from out thee,
And balmy rest about thee
Dirge. Blessed is the turf, serenely blessed, Where throbbing hearts may sink to rest, | Where life's long journey turns to sleep, Nor ever pilgrim wakes to weep. A little sod, a few sad flowers, A tear for long-departed hours, Is all that feeling hearts request | To hush their weary thoughts to rest. There shall no vain ambition come To lure them from their quiet home; Nor sorrow lift, with heart-strings riven, | The meek imploring eye to heaven; Nor sad remembrance stoop to shed His wrinkles on the slumberer's head; And never, never love repair To breathe his idle whispers there!
To the Grasshopper and the Cricket.
| | Green little vaulter in the sunny grass, | Catching your heart up at the feel of June, t Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon, When even the bees lag at the summoning brass; And you, warni little housekeeper, who class With those who think the candles come too soon, Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;
Oh, sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
The Celebrated Canzone of Petrarch—“Chiare, fresche, e - dolce acque.”
Clear, fresh, and dulcet streams, | Which the fair shape, who seems To me sole woman, haunted at noontide; | Bough, gently interknit (I sigh to think of it), Which formed a rustic chair for her sweet side; And turf, and flowers bright-eyed, | O'er which her folded gown Flowed like an angel's down; And you, O holy air and hushed, Where first my heart at her sweet glances gushed; Give ear, give ear, with one consenting, To my last words, my last and my lamenting.
If 'tis my fate below, And Heaven will have it so, | That love must close these dying eyes in tears, May my poor dust be laid In middle of your shade, | While my soul, naked, mounts to its own spheres. The thought would calm my fears, When taking, out of breath, | The doubtful step of death; For never could my spirit find A stiller port after the stormy wind: | Nor in more calm abstracted bourne, | Slip from my travailed flesh, and from my bones outWorn.
Perhaps, some future hour, To her accustomed bower Might come the untamed, and yet the gentle she; And where she saw me first, Might turn with eyes athirst, And kinder joy to look again for me; Then, O the charity Seeing betwixt the stones The earth that held my bones, A sigh for very love at last Might ask of Heaven to pardon me the past; And Heaven itself could not say nay, | As with her gentle veil she wiped the tears away.
| How well I call to mind
In midst of all that pride,
|| Queen-like, with gold and pearls;
Some, snowing, on her drapery stopped; ,
| Some on the earth, some on the water dropped;
While others, fluttering from above,
| Seemed wheeling round in pomp, and saying ‘Here
How often then I said, Inward, and filled with dread, “Doubtless this creature came from Paradise!” For at her look the while, | Her voice, and her sweet smile, And heavenly air, truth parted from mine eyes: | So that, with long-drawn sighs, I said, as far from men, “How came I here—and when?”
I had forgotten; and, alas !
John CLARE, one of the most truly uneducated of English poets, and one of the best of our rural describers, was born at Helpstone, a village near Peterborough, in 1793. His parents were peasants —his father a helpless cripple and a pauper. John obtained some education by his own extra work as a ploughboy: from the labour of eight weeks he generally acquired as many pence as paid for a month's schooling. At thirteen years of age he met with Thomson's Seasons, and hoarded up a shilling to purchase a copy. At daybreak on a spring morning, he walked to the town of Stamford—six or seven miles off—to make the purchase, and had to wait some time till the shops were opened. This is a fine trait of boyish enthusiasm, and of the struggles of youthful genius. Returning to his native village with the precious purchase, as he walked through the beautiful scenery of Burghley Park, he composed his first piece of poetry, which he called the Morning Walk. This was soon followed by the Evening Walk, and some other pieces. the young poet in writing and arithmetic, and he continued his obscure but ardent devotions to his rural muse. “Most of his poems,’ says the writer of a memoir prefixed to his first volume, “were composed under the immediate impression of his feelings in the fields or on the road sides. He could not trust his memory, and therefore he wrote them down with a pencil on the spot, his hat serving him for a desk; and if it happened that he had no opportunity soon after of transcribing these imperfect memorials, he could seldom decipher them or recover his first thoughts. From this cause several of his poems are quite lost, and others exist only in
fragments. Of those which he had committed to
writing, especially his earlier pieces, many were
destroyed from another circumstance, which shows
how little he expected to please others with them: from a hole in the wall of his room where he stuffed his manuscripts, a piece of paper was often taken to hold the kettle with, or light the fire.” In 1817, Clare, while working at Bridge Casterton, in Rutlandshire, resolved on risking the publication of a volume. a pound saved, that he might have a prospectus printed. This was accordingly done, and a Collection of Original Trifles was announced to subscribers, the price not to exceed 3s.6d. “I distributed my papers,’ he says; “but as I could get at no way of pushing them into higher circles than those with whom I was acquainted, they consequently passed off as quietly as if they had been still in my possession, unprinted and unseen.' Only seven subscribers came forward! One of these prospectuses, however, led to an acquaintance with Mr Edward Drury, bookseller, Stamford, and through this gentleman the poems were published by Messrs Taylor and Hessey, London, who purchased them from Clare for £20. The volume was brought out in January 1820, with an interesting well-written introduction, and bearing the title, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, by John Clare, a Northamptonshire peasant. The attention of the public was instantly awakened to the circumstances and the merits of Clare. The magazines and reviews were unanimous in his favour. ‘This interesting little volume,” said the Quarterly Review, “bears indubit
A benevolent exciseman instructed
By hard working day and might, he got