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THE TWO MURRAYS
see them in such a state without using the common feelings of humanity, and what means were in my power, to set them afloat again.
(1822, October 9. Letter 1029, to John
Murray, Vol. VI., p. 122.)
And now to a less agreeable topic, of which pars magna es—you Murray of Albemarle St and the other Murray of Bridge Street, “Arcades Ambo" (“Murrays both”) “et cant-are pares”: ye, I say, between you, are the Causes of the prosecution of John Hunt, Esq. on account of the Vision. You, by sending him an incorrect copy, and the other, by his function [of solicitor to the Constitutional Association, a body formed for the purpose of prosecuting persons charged with offences against Church and State). Egad, but H.'s Counsel will lay it on you with a trowel for your tergiversation as to the MSS. etc., whereby poor H. (and, for anything I know, myself -I am willing enough) is likely to be impounded. Now, do you see what you and your friends do by your injudicious rudeness ?-actually cement a sort of connection which you strove to prevent, and which, had the H.'s prospered, would not in all probability have continued. As it is, I will not quit them in their adversity, though it should cost me character, fame, money, and the usual et cetera.
My original motives I already explained in the letter which you thought proper to show): they are the true ones, and I abide by them, as I tell you, and I told L H when he questioned me on the subject of that letter. He was violently hurt, and never will forgive me at bottom; but I can't help that. I never
meant to make a parade of it; but if he chose to question me, I could only answer the plain truth : and I confess I did not see anything in the letter to hurt him, unless I said he was “a bore,” which I don't remember. Had their Journal gone on well, and I could have aided to make it better for them, I should then have left them, after my safe pilotage off a lee shore, to make a prosperous voyage by themselves. As it is, I can't, and would not, if I could, leave them amidst the breakers. As to any community of feeling, thought, or opinion, between L. H. and me, there is little or none: we meet rarely, hardly ever; but I think him a good-principled and able man, and must do as I would be done by. I do not know what world he has lived in, but I have lived in three or four; and none of them like his Keats and Kangaroo terra incognita. Alas! poor Shelley ! how he would have laughed had he lived, and how we used to laugh now and then, at various things, which are grave in the Suburbs!
(1822, December 25. Letter 1048, to John
Murray, Vol. VI., p. 156.)
Of Hunt I see little-once a month or so, and then on his own business, generally. You may easily suppose that I know too little of Hampstead and his satellites to have much communion or community with him. My whole present relation to him arose from Shelley's unexpected wreck. You would not have had me leave him in the street with his family, would you ? and as to the other plan you mention, you forget how it would humiliate him—that his writings should be supposed to be dead weight !
RESPECT FOR “THE VAINEST MAN ON EARTH” 217
Think a moment—he is perhaps the vainest man on earth, at least his own friends say so pretty loudly; and if he were in other circumstances, I might be tempted to take him down a peg; but not now,—it would be cruel. It is a cursed business; but neither the motive nor the means rest upon my conscience, and it happens that he and his brother have been so far benefited by the publication in a pecuniary point of view. His brother [John Hunt] is a steady, bold fellow, such as Prynne, for example, and full of moral, and, I hear, physical courage.
(1823, February 20. Letter 1056, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. VI., p. 167.)
I presume that you, at least, know enough of me to be sure that I could have no intention to insult Hunt's poverty. On the contrary, I honour him for it; for I know what it is, having been as much embarrassed as ever he was, without perceiving aught in it to diminish an honourable man's selfrespect. If you mean to say that, had he been a wealthy man, I would have joined in this Journal, I answer in the negative. *** I engaged in the Journal from good-will towards him, added to respect for his character, literary and personal; and no less for his political courage, as well as regret for his present circumstances : I did this in the hope that he might, with the same aid from literary friends of literary contributions (which is requisite for all journals of a mixed nature), render himselfindependent.
I have always treated him, in our personal inter
course with such scrupulous delicacy, that I have forborne intruding advice which I thought might be disagreeable, lest he should impute it to what is called “taking advantage of a man's situation.”
(1823 [undated] ]. Letter 1062, to Mrs
[? Shelley], Vol. VI., p. 174.) I have been far more persecuted than you, as you may judge by my present decadence, for I take it that I am as low in popularity and bookselling as any writer can be. At least, so my friends assure me-blessings on their benevolence! This they attribute to Hunt; but they are wrong-it must be, partly at least, owing to myself; be it so. As to Hunt, I prefer not having turned him to starve in the streets to any personal honour which might have accrued from some genuine philanthropy. I really act upon principle in this matter, for we have nothing much in common; and I cannot describe to you the despairing sensation of trying to do something for a man who seems incapable or unwilling to do any thing further for himself, at least, to the purpose. It is like pulling a man out of a river who directly throws himself in again. For the last three or four years Shelley assisted, and had once actually extricated him. I have since his [i.e. Shelley's] demise,-and even before,—done what I could : but it is not in my power to make this permanent. I want Hunt to return to England, for which I would furnish him with the means in comfort; and his situation there, on the whole, is bettered, by the payment of a portion of his debts, etc. ; and he would be on the spot to continue his Journal, or Journals, with his brother,
TWO KINDS OF STRICTURES
who seems a sensible, plain, sturdy, and enduring person.
(1823, April 2. Letter 1064, to Thomas
Moore, Vol. VI., p. 182.)
Southey Do read mathematics.--I should think X plus Y at least as amusing as the Curse of Kehama, and much more intelligible. Master Southey's poems are, in fact, what parallel lines might be—-viz. prolonged ad infinitum without meeting any thing half so absurd as themselves.
“What news, what news ? Queen Oracca,
What news of scribblers five?
All damn'd, though yet alive."
[Byron is parodying a stanza of Southey's “Queen Orraca and the Five Martyrs of Morocco ”
“What news, O King Affonso,
What news of the Friars five?
And are they still alive?"]
Harness, Vol. II., p. 74.)
In yesterday's paper, immediately under an advertisement on “Strictures in the Urethra,” I see--most appropriately consequent-a poem with "strictures on La B., M* Southey and others,” though I am afraid neither“M' S.'s” poetical distemper,