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tion, and it also disposes him to submit, with a wise and pious patience, to the vicissitudes of his daily existence. It is thus that humorists, such as Hood has been, and as Dickens is now, are great benefactors of our species, not only on account of the amusement which they give us, but because they are great moral teachers. The humorous writings of Mr. Thomas Hood have instructed you many years, and will instruct your children after you. I should mention, however, that this combination of poetry and humor does not produce, in all persons, the same blessed effects that it has produced here. In some cases it has degenerated into impatient satire and fierce revolt against the better feelings of humanity. In such a mind as that of Swift, it produced these evil effects ; but in such a mind as Hood's, it produced directly the contrary: it generated a noble and generous sympathy with the wants and desires of his fellow-creatures; and it is for this combination of poetical genius and humor and earnest philanthropy, that his name has grown up to become, as it were, a proverb for great wit united with deep and solemn sympathies. We recognize, ladies and gentlemen, these rare merits of Mr. Thomas Hood in the productions of his mature life, such as • The Bridge of Sighs,' and · The Song of the Shirt,' — verses which appear occasionally, and only occasionally, in literature, and which seem like products of the acme of the human mind — such products as the prison-song of Lovelace, the elegy of Gray, the sea-songs of Campbell, • The Burial of Sir John Moore,' and the · May Queen' of Alfred Tennyson – poems which, though they cost their authors much less trouble than many of their less successful works, are, neyertheless, the anchors (so to speak) of their world-wide fame. These beautiful poems of Mr. Thomas Hood have had a deep moral effect on different classes of society. If there are among those poems, and others of Mr. Thomas Hood, some expressions of stern indignation - if there are some passages which may seem almost exceptions to the general amiability of his character — it is that he wished to enforce the moral, that
· Evil is wrought by want of thought
I do not think, therefore, that there was any levity in his character because he was an humorist. I do not think, because you find in his works that with his rich wit and his great possessions of language he delighted to play with words as if, almost, they were fireworks, there was a want of gravity or seriousness in his composition. In a poem of his which is a perfect repertorium of wit and spirit, he seems conscious of this himself, for he writes to the effect that
• However critics may take offence,
And there are, no doubt, certain subtile faculties about us which enable us to find such great pleasure in the combination of this agility of diction with seriousness of purpose. Ladies and gentlemen who have raised this monument, I was informed by a friend of mine, and a dear friend of his, who remained with him to the last — Mr. Ward – that Mr. Thomas Hood was in very great disease and suffering, that he was laboring under some pecuniary difficulties — that his mind was not easy on those points, and that it would be a great relief to him to obtain some assistance, if he could do so by any honorable means, for he was determined to employ no other. I went on that occasion to Sir R. Peel, from whom I met with the most perfect sympathy as regarded the object I had in view ; and it was to me a most interesting fact that that great man, governing the destinies of this mighty nation, and engaged as he was in the gravest pursuits, could nevertheless be drawn, by the force of human sympathy, to take a deep interest in this simple man of letters. What was done on that occasion was sufficient for the purpose. I will ask you, therefore, in looking upon this bust, to regard it as a memorial not only of the interest of his friends, but as a memorial of national interest for a national name. It consists, as you perceive, of a plain bust upon a pedestal. I have always thought that a man's bust is the best monument which could be raised to him ; it is that which is most calculated to show people who come after him what he really was, and it is less dumb and less vacant than the monuments which we see mostly around us. It is perfectly true that, generally speaking, we find that busts represent the dead when we could wish they represented the living; it is perfectly true, also, that in our everyday walk among living busts we see men of genius, whom we do not recognize, and whose services and virtues we do not honor; and, after all, this may, perhaps, ke but y poor acknowledgment of the
worth of the poet and humorist ; but still here it is, and we have raised it, and I trust all will feel that in so doing we have not done honor to him, but to ourselves. I remember that at the time of his fatal illness I was very much haunted with the recollection of some lines of his, which, I dare say, some of you remember. They are contained in a little poem called The Death-bed —
"We watched her breathing through the night,
Her breathing soft and low,
Kept heaving to and fro.
of mine, t- Mr.
«So silently we seemed to speak,
So slowly moved about,
To eke her living out.
Our very hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied -
And sleeping when she died.
• For when the morn came dim and sad,
And chill with early showers,
Another morn than ours.'
Thomas Hood has now another morn than ourg — may that morn have brightened into perfect day! May his spirit look down with gratification upon us who have raised this modest homage to him — may he look down with pleasure on those he has left behind him, and who inherit his honor and his name – and may we all bear home with us the consoling reflection, that the fame of which a wise and honest man should be ambitious is not that of acquiring wealth, power, or even earning clamorous applause, but the attaining of such homage as we are now paying to one who among us was a brother and a friend – one who may make us at the same time thankful to the age in which it has pleased Providence to cast our lot, and grateful to the race and country of which we are common citizens and men.”
The monument consists of a large bronze bust of Hood, elevated on a handsome pedestal of polished red granite. On a slab beneath
the bust is his own self-inscribed epitaph — “He sang · The Song of the Shirt;'” and upon the projecting front of the pedestal the inscription is carved — “In memory of Thomas Wood, born 23d of May, 1798; died 3d of May, 1845 ; erected by public subscription a.d. 1854.” On the sides of the pedestal are medallions illustrating “ The Bridge of Sighs” and “ The Dream of Eugene Aram.” The monument is the work of Mr. Matthew Noble. It is simple in design, and correctly executed, and looks well in the midst of the medley of monuments with which Kensal-green is filling. But, independently of any consideration of that kind, this must ever be one of the chief treasures of the place.