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some time tutor to the nephew of Lord Chandos, flowery investment. I used to shut my eyes in near Southgate. His son-who was named after my arm-chair, and affect to think myself hundreds his father's pupil, Mr Leigh-was educated at of miles off
. But my triumph was in issuing forth Christ's Hospital, where he continued till his of a morning. A wicket out of the garden led into fifteenth year. I was then,' he says,'first deputy the large one belonging to the prison. The latter Grecian; and had the honour of going out of the was only for vegetables, but it contained a cherryschool in the same rank, at the same age, and tree, which I twice saw in blossom.'* for the same reason as my friend Charles Lamb. This is so interesting a little picture, and so fine The reason was, that I hesitated in my speech. an example of making the most of adverse circumIt was understood that a Grecian was bound to stances, that it should not be omitted in any life deliver a public speech before he left school, and of Hunt. The poet, however, was not so well fitted to go into the church afterwards ; and as I could to battle with the world, and apply himself steadily do neither of these things, a Grecian I could not to worldly business, as he was to dress his garden be. Leigh was then a poet, and his father collected and nurse his poetical fancies. He fell into diffihis verses, and published them with a large list culties, from which he was never afterwards wholly of subscribers. He has himself described this free. On leaving prison, he published his Story volume as a heap of imitations, some of them of Rimini, an Italian tale in verse, containing some clever enough for a youth of sixteen, but absolutely exquisite lines and passages. The poet subseworthless in every other respect. In 1805, Mr quently altered Rimini considerably, but without Hunt's brother set up a paper called The News, improving it. He set up a small weekly paper, and the poet went to live with him, and write the The Indicator, on the plan of the periodical theatrical criticisms in it. Three years afterwards, essayists, which was well received. He also they established, in joint-partnership, The Ex- gave to the world two small volumes of poetry, aminer, a weekly journal conducted with distin- Foliage, and The Feast of the Poets. In 1822, guished ability. The poet was more literary than Mr Xunt went to Italy to reside with Lord political in his tastes and lucubrations ; but un- Byron, and to establish The Liberal, a crude and fortunately, he ventured some strictures on the violent melange of poetry and politics, both in prince-regent, terming him'a fat Adonis of fifty,' the extreme of liberalism. This connection was with other personalities, and he was sentenced to productive of mutual disappointment and distwo years' imprisonment. The poet's captivity gust. The Liberal did not sell; Byron's titled and was not without its bright side. He had much aristocratic friends cried out against so plebeian a of the public sympathy, and his friends—Byron partnership ; and Hunt found that the noble poet, and Moore being of the number-were attentive to whom he was indebted in a pecuniary sense, in their visits. One of his two rooms on the was cold, sarcastic, and worldly-minded. Still 'ground-floor' he converted into a picturesque more unfortunate was it that Hunt should afterand poetical study : 'I papered the walls with a wards have written the work, Lord Byron and Some trellis of roses; I had the ceiling coloured with of his Contemporaries (1828), in which his disclouds and sky; the barred windows were screened appointed feelings found vent, and their expression with Venetian blinds; and when my bookcases was construed into ingratitude. His life was spent were set up, with their busts and flowers, and a in struggling with influences contrary to his nature pianoforte made its appearance, perhaps there was and poetical temperament. In 1835, he produced not a handsomer room on that side the water. I Captain Sword and Captain Pen-a poetical detook a pleasure, when a stranger knocked at the nunciation of war. In 1840, he greeted the birth door, to see him come in and stare about him. of the Princess-royal with a copy of verses, from
The surprise on issuing from the Borough, and which we extract some pleasing lines :
Behold where thou dost lie, room except in a fairy tale. But I had another
Heeding nought, remote or nigh!
Nought of all the news we sing surprise, which was a garden. There was a little
Dost thou know, sweet ignorant thing; yard outside railed off from another belonging to
Nought of planet's love nor people's; the neighbouring ward. This yard I shut in with
Nor dost hear the giddy steeples green palings, adorned it with a trellis, bordered Carolling of thee and thine, it with a thick bed of earth from a nursery, and As if heaven had rained them wine ; even contrived to have a grass-plot. The earth
Nor dost care for all the pains I filled with flowers and young trees. There was
Of ushers and of chamberlains, an apple-tree from which we managed to get a
Nor the doctor's learned looks, pudding the second year. As to my flowers, they
Nor the very bishop's books, were allowed to be perfect. A poet from Derby
Nor the lace that wraps thy chin, shire [Mr Moore] told me he had seen no such
No, nor for thy rank a pin. heart's-ease. I bought the Parnaso Italiano while
E'en thy father's loving hand
Nowise dost thou understand, in prison, and used often to think of a passage in When he makes thee feebly grasp it, while looking at this miniature piece of horti
His finger with a tiny clasp ; culture :
Nor dost thou know thy very mother's
Balmy bosom from another's,
Though thy small blind eyes pursue it ;
Nor the arms that draw thee to it;
Nor the eyes that, while they fold thee,
Never can enough behold thee! Here I wrote and read in fine weather, sometimes under an awning.
In the same year Hunt brought out a drama, In autumn, my trellises were hung with scarlet runners, which added to the • Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries.
A Legend of Florence, and in 1842 a narrative poem, The Palfrey: His poetry, generally, is
Description of a Fountain. From 'Rimini.' marked by a profusion of imagery, of sprightly And in the midst, fresh whistling through the scene, fancy, and animated description. Some quaint The lightsome fountain starts from out the green, ness and affectation in his style and manner Clear and compact; till, at its height o'errun, fixed upon him the name of a Cockney poet; but It shakes its loosening silver in the sun. his studies had lain chiefly in the elder writers, and he imitated with success the lighter and
Funeral of the Lovers in 'Rimini.' more picturesque parts of Chaucer and Spenser.
The days were then at close of autumn-still, Boccaccio, and the gay Italian authors, appear
A little rainy, and, towards nightfall, chill; also to have been among his favourites. His prose
There was a fitful moaning air abroad; essays have been collected and published under
And ever and anon, over the road, the title of The Indicator and the Companion, a The last few leaves came fluttering from the trees, Miscellany for the Fields and the Fireside. They Whose trunks now thronged to sight, in dark varieties. are deservedly popular-full of literary anecdote, The people, who, from reverence, kept at home, poetical feeling, and fine sketches both of town Listened till afternoon to hear them come; and country life. Other prose works were published And hour on hour went by, and nought was heard, by Hunt, including Sir Ralph Esher, a novel (1844);
But some chance horseman or the wind that stirred, The Town (1848); Autobiography and Reminis
Till towards the vesper-hour; and then, 'twas said, cences (1850); The Religion of the Heart (1853);
Some heard a voice, which seemed as if it read; Biographical and Critical Notices of Wycherley,
And others said that they could hear a sound
Of many horses trampling the moist ground. Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar (1855); The
Still, nothing came-till on a sudden, just Old Court Suburb (1855) ; with several volumes of
As the wind
opened in a rising gust, selections, sketches, and critical comments. The
A voice of chanting rose, and, as it spread, egotism of the author is undisguised; but in all They plainly heard the anthem for the dead. Hunt's writings, his peculiar tastes and romantic It was the choristers who went to meet fancy, his talk of books and flowers, and his love The train, and now were entering the first street. of the domestic virtues and charities--though he Then turned aside that city, young and old, had too much imagination for his judgment in And in their lifted hands the gushing sorrow rolled. the serious matters of life--impart a particular
But of the older people, few could bear interest and pleasure to his personal disclosures.
To keep the window, when the train drew near; In 1847, the crown bestowed a pension of £200 a
And all felt double tenderness to see year on the veteran poet. He died August 28,
The bier approaching, slow and steadily,
On which those two in senseless coldness lay,
Who but a few short months—it seemed a day-
In sunny manhood he-she first of womankind. May Morning at Ravenna.— From' Rimini.'
They say that when Duke Guido saw them come,
He clasped his hands, and looking round the room, The sun is up, and 'tis a morn of May,
Lost his old wits for ever. From the morrow Round old Ravenna's clear-shewn towers and bay,
None saw him after. But no more of sorrow. A morn, the loveliest which the year has seen,
On that same night, those lovers silently Last of the spring, yet fresh with all its green ;
Were buried in one grave, under a tree; For a warm eve, and gentle rains at night,
There, side by side, and hand in hand, they lay Have left a sparkling welcome for the light,
In the green ground; and on fine nights in May And there's a crystal clearness all about ;
Young hearts betrothed used to go there to pray. The leaves are sharp, the distant hills look out ; A balmy briskness comes upon the breeze ;
To T. L. H., Six Years Old, during a Sickness. The smoke goes dancing from the cottage trees; And when you listen, you may hear a coil
Sleep breathes at last from out thee, Of bubbling springs about the grassy soil ;
My little patient boy ; And all the scene, in short-sky, earth, and sea,
And balmy rest about thee Breathes like a bright-eyed face, that laughs out
Smooths off the day's annoy. openly.
I sit me down, and think 'Tis nature, full of spirits, waked and springing :
Of all thy winning ways; The birds to the delicious time are singing,
Yet almost wish, with sudden shrink, Darting with freaks and snatches up and down,
That I had less to praise. Where the light woods go seaward from the town;
Thy sidelong pillowed meekness, While happy faces, striking through the green
Thy thanks to all that aid, Of leafy roads, at every turn are seen ;
Thy heart, in pain and weakness, And the far ships, lifting their sails of white
Of fancied faults afraid ; Like joyful hands, come up with scattered light,
The little trembling hand Come gleaming up, true to the wished-for day,
That wipes thy quiet tears, And chase the whistling brine, and swirl into the bay.
These, these are things that may demand
Dread memories for years.
Sorrows I've had, severe ones,
I will not think of now; Callings, and clapping doors, and curs unite,
And calmly 'midst my dear ones And shouts from mere exuberance of delight;
Have wasted with dry brow; And armed bands, making important way,
But when thy fingers press Gallant and grave, the lords of holiday,
And pat my stooping head, And nodding neighbours, greeting as they run,
I cannot bear the gentleness And pilgrims, chanting in the morning sun.
The tears are in their bed.
Ah! first-born of thy mother,
"And is mine one ?' said Abou. “Nay, not so,' When life and hope were new,
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low, Kind playmate of thy brother,
But cheerily still ; and said : 'I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.'
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night My bird, when prison-bound,
It came again with a great wakening light, My hand-in-hand companion--no,
And shewed the names whom love of God had blest, My prayers shall hold thee round.
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest. To say 'He has departed
The above striking little narrative poem is His voice'-' his face'-'is gone;'
taken from the Bibliothèque Orientale of D'HerTo feel impatient-hearted,
JOHN CLARE, one of the most truly uneducated Unless I felt this sleep insure
of English poets, and one of the best of our rural That it will not be so.
describers, was born at Helpstone, a village near Yes, still he's fixed, and sleeping !
Peterborough, in 1793. His parents were peasants This silence too the while
-his father a helpless cripple and a pauper. John Its very hush and creeping
obtained some education by his own extra work Seem whispering us a smile :
as a plough-boy ; from the labour of eight weeks. Something divine and dim
he generally acquired as many pence as paid for Seems going by one's ear,
a month's schooling. At thirteen years of age he Like parting wings of seraphim,
met with Thomson's Seasons, and hoarded up a Who say, “We've finished here.'
shilling to purchase a copy. At day-break on a
spring morning, he walked to the town of Stamford Dirge.
-six or seven miles off-to make the purchase,
and had to wait some time till the shops were Blest is the turf, serenely blest,
opened. This is a fine trait of boyish enthusiasm, Where throbbing hearts may sink to rest, and of the struggles of youthful genius. Returning Where life's long journey turns to sleep, to his native village with the precious purchase, Nor ever pilgrim wakes to weep.
as he walked through the beautiful scenery of A little sod, a few sad flowers,
Burghley Park, he composed his first piece of A tear for long-departed hours, Is all that feeling hearts request
poetry, which he called the Morning Walk. This To hush their weary thoughts to rest.
was soon followed by the Evening Walk, and There shall no vain ambition come
some other pieces. A benevolent exciseman inTo lure them from their quiet home;
structed the young poet in writing and arithmetic, Nor sorrow lift, with heart-strings riven,
and he continued his obscure but ardent devotion The meek imploring eye to heaven ;
to his rural muse. In 1817, while working at Nor sad remembrance stoop to shed
Bridge Casterton, in Rutlandshire, he resolved on His wrinkles on the slumberer's head ;
risking the publication of a volume. By hard And never, never love repair
working day and night, he got a pound saved, To breathe his idle whispers there !
that he might have a prospectus printed. This
was accordingly done, and a Collection of Original To the Grasshopper and the Cricket.
Trifles was announced to subscribers, the price not
to exceed 3s. 6d. 'I distributed my papers,' he Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
says ; 'but as I could get at no way of pushing Catching your heart up at the feel of June, them into higher circles than those with whom I Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon,
was acquainted, they consequently passed off as When even the bees lag at the summoning brass ; And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
quietly as if they had been still in my possession, With those who think the candles come too soon,
unprinted and unseen.' Only seven subscribers Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
came forward ! One of these prospectuses, howNick the glad silent moments as they pass ;
ever, led to an acquaintance with Mr Edward O sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
Drury, bookseller, Stamford, and through this One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
gentleman the poems were published by Messrs Both have your sunshine ; both, though small, are Taylor and Hessey, London, who purchased them strong
from Clare for £20. The volume was brought At your clear hearts; and both seem given to earth out in January 1820, with an interesting wellTo ring in thoughtful ears this natural song- written introduction, and bearing the title, Poems Indoors and out, summer and winter, Mirth.
descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, by John
Clare, a Northamptonshire Peasant. The attenAbou Ben Adhem and the Angel.
tion of the public was instantly awakened to the
circumstances and the merits of Clare. The magAbou Ben Adhem--may his tribe increase !
azines and reviews were unanimous in his favour. Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
In a short time he was in possession of a little And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
fortune. The late Earl Fitzwilliam sent £100 to Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom, An angel writing in a book of gold.
his publishers, which, with the like sum advanced Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold, by them, was laid out in the purchase of stock ; And to the presence in the room he said :
the Marquis of Exeter allowed him an annuity of What writest thou?' The vision raised its head, fifteen guineas for life; the Earl of Spencer a And with a look made of all sweet accord,
further annuity of £10, and various contributions Answered : 'The names of those who love the Lord.' were received from other noblemen and gentlemen,
so that the poet had a permanent allowance of £30 buoyant in the midst of labour and hardship; and per annum. He married his . Patty of the Vale,' his imagery, drawn directly from nature, is various the rosebud in humble life,' the daughter of a and original. Careful finishing could not be exneighbouring farmer ; and in his native cottage at pected from the rustic poet, yet there is often a fine Helpstone, with his aged and infirm parents and delicacy and beauty in his pieces. In grouping his young wife by his side—all proud of his now and forming his pictures, he has recourse to new rewarded and successful genius-Clare basked in and original expressions-as for example : the sunshine of a poetical felicity. The writer of this recollects with melancholy pleasure paying
Brisk winds the lightened branches shake a visit to the poet at this genial season in company
By pattering, plashing drops confessed ;
And, where oaks dripping shade the lake, with one of his publishers. The humble dwelling Paint crimping dimples on its breast. wore an air of comfort and contented happiness. Shelves were fitted up filled with books, most of one of his sonnets is singularly rich in this vivid which had been sent as presents. Clare read and word-painting : liked them all! He took us to see his favourite scene, the haunt of his inspiration. It was a low fall of swampy ground, used as a pasture, and
Sonnet to the Glow-worm. bounded by a dull rushy brook, overhung with Tasteful illumination of the night, willows. Yet here Clare strayed and mused de Bright scattered, twinkling star of spangled earth! lighted.
Hail to the nameless coloured dark and light,
The witching nurse of thy illumined birth.
In thy still hour how dearly I delight
To rest my weary bones, from labour free;
In lone spots, out of hearing, out of sight,
To sigh day's smothered pains; and pause on thee,
Bedecking dangling brier and ivied tree.
Or diamonds tipping on the grassy spear ;
Thy pale-faced glimmering light I love to see,
Gilding and glistering in the dew-drop near : In 1821 Clare came forward again as a poet. His
O still-hour's mate ! my easing heart sobs free, second publication was entitled The Village
While tiny bents low bend with many an added tear. Minstrel and other Poems, in two volumes. The The delicacy of some of his sentimental verses, first of these pieces is in the Spenserian stanza, mixed up in careless profusion with others less and describes the scenes, sports, and feelings of correct or pleasing, may be seen from the followrural life—the author himself sitting for the por: ing part of a ballad, The Fate of Amy: trait of Lubin, the humble rustic who 'hummed his lowly dreams
The flowers the sultry summer kills,
Spring's milder suns restore ;
But innocence, that fickle charm,
Blooms once, and blooms no more. sion of natural emotion and generous sentiment The swains who loved no more admire, in this poem, exalted the reputation of Clare as Their hearts no beauty warms; a true poet. He afterwards contributed short And maidens triumph in her fall pieces to the annuals and other periodicals,
That envied once her charms. marked by a more choice and refined diction. The poet's prosperity was, alas ! soon over. His
Lost was that sweet simplicity;
Her eye's bright lustre fled; discretion was not equal to his fortitude : he
And o'er her cheeks, where roses bloomed speculated in farming, wasted his little hoard, and
A sickly paleness spread. amidst accumulating difficulties, sank into nervous despondency and despair. He was placed an So fades the flower before its time, inmate in Dr Allen's private lunatic asylum in the
Where canker-worms assail ; centre of Epping Forest, where he remained for So droops the bud upon its stem about four years. He then effected his escape,
Beneath the sickly gale. but shortly afterwards was taken to the Northampton lunatic asylum, where he had to drag on a
What is Life? miserable existence of twenty more years. He died May 20, 1864. So sad a termination of his
And what is Life? An hour-glass on the run, poetical career it is painful to contemplate. Amidst
A mist retreating from the morning sun, the native wild-flowers of his song we looked not
A busy, bustling, still-repeated dream. for the deadly nightshade'-and, though the
Its length? A minute's pause, a moment's thought.
And Happiness? A bubble on the stream, examples of Burns, of Chatterton, and Bloomfield,
That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought. were better fitted to inspire fear than hope, there was in Clare a naturally lively and cheerful tem And what is Hope ? The puffing gale of morn, perament, and an apparent absence of strong and That robs each floweret of its gem—and dies ; dangerous passions, that promised, as in the case A cobweb, hiding disappointment's thorn, of Allan Ramsay, a life of humble yet prosperous
Which stings more keenly through the thin disguise. contentment and happiness. Poor Clare's muse
And what is Death? Is still the cause unfound? was the true offspring of English country-life. He That dark mysterious name of horrid sound? was a faithful painter of rustic scenes and occupa A long and lingering sleep the weary crave. tions, and he noted every light and shade of his And Peace? Where can its happiness abound? brooks, meadows, and green lanes. His fancy was Nowhere at all, save heaven and the grave.
Then what is Life? When stripped of its disguise, With joy—and oft an unintruding guest,
I watched her secret toils from day to day ;
How true she warped the moss to form her nest, Gives proof sufficient of its vanity.
And modelled it within with wood and clay. 'Tis but a trial all must undergo,
And by and by, like heath-bells gilt with dew, To teach unthankful mortals how to prize
There lay her shining eggs as bright as flowers, That happiness vain man 's denied to know,
Ink-spotted over, shells of green and blue : Until he's called to claim it in the skies.
And there I witnessed, in the summer hours,
A brood of nature's minstrels chirp and fly,
Glad as the sunshine and the laughing sky.*
First-love's Recollections. Or, stretched beneath the shade of trees,
First-love will with the heart remain Peruse and pause on nature's book ;
When its hopes are all gone by; When nature every sweet prepares
As frail rose-blossoms still retain
Their fragrance when they die : To entertain our wished delay
And joy's first dreams will haunt the mind The images which morning wears,
with the shades 'mid which they sprung, The wakening charms of early day!
As summer leaves the stems behind
On which spring's blossoms hung.
Mary, I dare not call thee dear,
I've lost that right so long;
Yet once again I vex thine ear And hear the beetle sound his horn,
With memory's idle song. And hear the skylark whistling nigh,
I felt a pride to name thy name, Sprung from his bed of tufted corn,
But now that pride hath flown, A hailing minstrel in the sky.
And burning blushes speak my shame,
That thus I love thee on.
How loath to part, how fond to meet,
Had we two used to be ; And sweetly dancing on the streams.
At sunset, with what eager feet
I hastened unto thee! How fine the spider's web is spun,
Scarce nine days passed us ere we met Unnoticed to vulgar eyes;
In spring, nay, wintry weather ; Its silk thread glittering in the sun
Now nine years' suns have risen and set, Art's bungling vanity defies.
Nor found us once together. Roaming while the dewy fields
Thy face was so familiar grown, 'Neath their morning burden lean,
Thyself so often nigh, While its crop my searches shields,
A moment's memory when alone, Sweet I scent the blossomed bean.
Would bring thee in mine eye; Making oft remarking stops;
But now my very dreams forget
That witching look to trace ;
Though there thy beauty lingers yet,
It wears a stranger's face. So emerging into light,
When last that gentle cheek I prest, From the ignorant and vain
And heard thee feign adieu, Fearful genius takes her flight,
I little thought that seeming jest
Would prove a word so true!
Even loftier hopes than ours;
Spring bids full many buds to swell,
That ne'er can grow to flowers.
Dawnings of Genius. 'Mid creeping moss and ivy's darker green ;
How much thy presence beautifies the ground ! In those low paths which poverty surrounds,
The rough rude ploughman, off his fallow grounds--
While moiled and sweating, by some pasture's side, The school-boy roams enchantedly along,
Will often stoop, inquisitive to trace Plucking the fairest with a rude delight :
The opening beauties of a daisy's face ; While the meek shepherd stops his simple song,
Oft will he witness, with admiring eyes, To gaze a moment on the pleasing sight;
The brook's sweet dimples o'er the pebbles rise ; O'erjoyed to see the flowers that truly bring The welcome news of sweet returning spring.
* Montgomery says quaintly but truly of this sonnet: Here we have in miniature the history and geography of a thrush's nest,
so simply and naturally set forth, that one might think such The Thrush's Nest-A Sonnet.
No more difficile
Than for a blackbird 'tis to whistle.
But let the heartless critic who despises them try his own hand I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
either at a bird's nest or a sonnet like this; and when he has
succeeded in making the one, he may have some hope of being Sing hymns of rapture, while I drank the sound
able to make the other.'