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the E. R. would but do it justice, and set it before the public eye, where it ought to be.
(1816, February 29. Letter 578, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. III., p. 267.) I am sorry to hear of your row with Hunt: but suppose him to be exasperated by the Quarterly and your refusal to deal; and when one is angry and edits a paper I should think the temptation too strong for literary nature, which is not always human. I can't conceive in what, and for what, he abuses you: what have you done ? you are not an author — nor a politician—nor a public character; I know no scrape you have tumbled into. I am the more sorry for this, because I introduced you to Hunt, and because I believe him to be a very good man; but till I know the particulars, I can give no opinion.
(1817, June 4. Letter 654, to John Murray,
Vol. IV., p. 129.) Hunt's letter is probably the exact piece of vulgar coxcombry you might expect from his situation. He is a good man, with some poetical elements in his chaos; but spoilt by the Christ Church Hospital and a Sunday newspaper,-to say nothing of the Surrey gaol, which conceited him into a martyr. But he is a good man. When I saw Rimini in MS., I told him that I deemed it good poetry at bottom, disfigured only by a strange style. His answer was, that his style was a system, or upon system, or some such cant; and, when a man talks of system, his case is hopeless : so I said no more to him, and very little to any one else. He believes his trash of vulgar phrases
HUNT_"A VERY VULGAR PERSON"
tortured into compound barbarisms to be old English ; and we may say of it as Aimwell says of Captain Gibbet's regiment, when the Captain calls it an “old corps,”—“the oldest in Europe, if I may judge by your uniform.”
He sent out his Foliage [Foliage, or Poems Original and Translated, 1818] by Percy Shelley * * *, and, of all the ineffable Centaurs that were ever begotten by Self-love upon a Night-mare, I think “this monstrous Sagittary” the most prodigious. He (Leigh H.) is an honest charlatan, who has persuaded himself into a belief of his own impostures, and talks Punch in pure simplicity of heart, taking himself (as poor Fitzgerald said of himself in the Morning Post) for Vates in both senses, or nonsenses, of the word. Did you look at the translations of his own [i.e. translations from Homer] which he prefers to Pope and Cowper, and says so?. ..
But Leigh Hunt is a good man, and a good father --see his Odes to all the Masters Hunt ;-a good husband-see his Sonnet to MHunt;-a good friend-see his Epistles to different people ;-and a great coxcomb and a very vulgar person in every thing about him. But that's not his fault, but of circumstances.
(1818, June 1. Letter 701, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. IV., p. 237.)
The most rural of these gentlemen is my friend Leigh Hunt, who lives at Hampstead. I believe that I need not disclaim any personal or poetical hostility against that gentleman. A more amiable man in society I know not; nor (when he will allow his sense to prevail over his sectarian principles) a better writer.
When he was writing his Rimini, I was not the last to discover its beauties, long before it was published. Even then I remonstrated against its vulgarisms; which are the more extraordinary, because the author is any thing but a vulgar man. Mr Hunt's answer was, that he wrote them upon principle; they made part of his system !!! I then said no more. When a man talks of his system, it is like a woman's talking of her virtue. I let them talk on. Whether there are writers who could have written Rimini, as it might have been written, I know not; but M' Hunt is, probably, the only poet who could have had the heart to spoil his own Capo d'Opera. . .. I would also observe to my friend Hunt, that I shall be very glad to see him at Ravenna, not only for my sincere pleasure in his company, and the advantage which a thousand miles or so of travel might produce to a “natural” poet, but also to point out one or two little things in “Rimini” which he probably would not have placed in his opening to that poem, if he had ever seen Ravenna ;-unless, indeed, it made “part of his system !!”
I must also crave his indulgence for having spoken of his disciples—by no means an agreeable or selfsought subject. If they had said nothing of Pope, they might have remained “alone with their glory," for aught I should have said or thought about them or their nonsense. But if they interfere with the “little Nightingale” of Twickenham, they may find others who will bear it, I won't.
The grand distinction of the under forms of the new school of poets is their vulgarity. By this I do not mean that they are coarse, but "shabby-genteel," as
HUNT “ANY THING BUT VULGAR"
it is termed. A man may be course and yet not culgar, and the reverse. . . . It is in their finery that the new under school are most vulgar, and they may be known by this at once; as what we called at Harrow “a Sunday blood” might be easily distinguished from a gentleman, although his cloathes might be the better cut, and his boots the best blackened, of the two probably because he made the one, or cleaned the other, with his own hands. In the present case, I speak of writing, not of persons. Of the latter I know nothing; of the former, I judge as it is found. Of my friend Hunt, I have already said, that he is any thing but vulgar in his manners; and of his disciples, therefore, I will not judge of their manners from their verses. They may be honourable and gentlemanly men, for what I know; but the latter quality is studiously excluded from their publications.
(1821. Addenda sent by Byron for inser
tion in the Second Letter to Murray on the Bowles-Pope controversy--a letter not published till 1835, Vol. V., pp. 588, 590, 591.)
Leigh Hunt is here, after a voyage of eight months, during which he has, I presume, made the Periplus of Hanno the Carthaginian, and with much the same speed. He is setting up a Journal, to which I have promised to contribute; and in the first number the Vision of Judgement, by Quevedo Redivivus, will probably appear, with other articles. Can you give us any thing? He seems sanguine about the matter, but (entre nous) I am not. I do not, however, like to put him out of spirits by saying so; for he is bilious and
unwell. Do, pray, answer this letter immediately. Do send Hunt any thing in prose or verse of yours, to start him handsomely-any lyrical, irical, or what you please.
(1822, July 12. Letter 1016, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. VI., p. 96.)
I preferred retaining the purchased furniture, but always intended that you should have as good or better in its place. I have a particular dislike to anything of Shelley's being within the same walls with M" Hunt's children. They are dirtier and more mischievous than Yahoos. What they can't destroy with their filth they will with their fingers. . . . Poor Hunt, with his six little blackguards, are coming slowly up; as usual he turned back once--was there ever such a kraal out of the Hottentot country.
(1822, October 6. Letter 1028, to Mrs
Shelley, Vol. VI., p. 119.)
I am afraid the Journal is a bad business, and won't do; but in it I am sacrificing myself for others—I can have no advantage in it. I believe the brothers H. to be honest men; I am sure that they are poor ones. They have not a rap: they pressed me to engage in this work, and in an evil hour I consented : still I shall not repent, if I can do them the least service. I have done all I can for Leigh Hunt since he came here ; but it is almost useless : his wife is ill, his six children not very tractable, and in the affairs of this world he himself is a child. The death of Shelley left them totally aground; and I could not