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inventor. It is not Sir Harry, or old Dornton, or | Walpole's style is sufficiently demonstrated Dubster, who said this or that; but Lewis.' by his own. "Fielding and Smollett
, Voltaire, really originated with the man who uttered it so Charlotte Smith, Mrs. Radcliffe, and Augusdelightfully.
tus La Fontaine were among his favorite au"Critical play.going is very inferior in its en- thors, but especially Voltaire—“the greatest joyments to this. Never, after I had taken criti- writer of the eighteenth century, and, upon eal pen in hand, did I pass the thoroughly.delight the whole, the greatest France has ever prokal evenings at the playhouse which I had done when I went only to laugh or be moved.
duced;" but whose works, with the exception "I speak of my own feelings, and at a particular of Candide and Zadig, he thinks are scarcely time of life; but forty or fifty years ago, people of known in England, even amongst those who all times of life were much greater play-goers than talk most about them; these two novels, they are now. They dined earlier ; they had not u may newspapers, clubs, and piano-fortes; the by no means his finest, serving as sufficient French Revolution only tended at first to endear specimens of him, even among his admirers. the nation to its own habits; it had not yet opened a thousand new channels of thought and interest; of France, and excels in pathos; yet not one Eng.
“ Voltaire is one of the three great tragic writers Dor had railroads conspired to carry people, bodily as well as mentally, into as many analogous direc. lishman in a thousand knows a syllable of his trations. Everything was more concentrated, and gedies, or would do anything but stare to hear of his the various classes of society felt a greater concern pathos. Voltaire inducted his countrymen into a in the same amusements
. Nobility, gentry, citi- knowledge of English science and metaphysics, zens, princes, all were frequenters of theatres, and pay, even of Engiish poetry; yet Englishmen have even more or less acquainted personally with the been told little about him in connection with them, performers. Nobilitý intermarried with them; except of his disagreements with Shakspeare. gentry, and citizens, too, wrote for them; princes Voltaire created a fashion for English
thinking, ceversed and lived with them. Sheridan, and manner, and policy, and fell in love with the simother members of Parliament, were managers as
plicity and truthfulness of their very Quakers; and well as dramatists. It was Lords Derby, Craven, yet, I will venture to say, the English know far and Thurlow that sought wives on the stage with which he degraded his better nature in bur
less of all this, than they do of a licentious poem Two of the most popular minor dramatists were Cobb, a clerk in the India House, and Birch, the lesquing the history of Joan of Arc. pastry-cook. If Mrs. Jordan lived with the Duke
" There are, it is admitted, two sides to the charof Clarence (William IV.) as his mistress, nobody acter of Voltaire; one licentious, merely scoffing, doubts that she was as faithful to him as a wife. saddening, defective in sentiment, and therefore His brother, the Prince of Wales, (George the wanting the inner clue of the beautiful to guide Fourth,) besides his intimacy with Sheridan and him out of the labyrinth of scorn and perplexity; the younger Colman, and to say nothing of Mrs. all owing, be it observed, to the errors which he Robinson, took a pleasure in conversing with Kem- found prevailing in his youth, and to the impossible, and was the personal patron of O'Keefe and of ble demands which they made on his acquiescence ; Kelly. The Kembles, indeed, as Garrick had been, but the other side of his character is moral, cheerwere received everywhere, among the truly best ful, beneficent, prepared to encounter peril, nay, circles; that is to say, where intelligence was
actually encountering it in the only true Christian combined with high breeding: and they deserved causes, those of toleration and charity, and raising it; for whatever difference of opinion may be en
that voice of demand for the advancement of reatertained as to the amount of genius in the family, whole voice of Europe. He was the only man,
son and justice which is now growing into the nobody who recollects them will dispute that they were a remarkable race, dignified and elegant in perhaps, that ever existed, who represented in his manners, with intellectual tendencies, and in point single person the entire character, with one honof aspect very like what has been called "God orable exception, (for he was never sanguinary,) og Almighty's nobility.'”
the nation in which he was born ; nay, of its whole
history, past, present, and to come. He had the The Spectator was the earliest model of licentiousness of the old monarchy under which he Hunt's prose; and his earliest printed com
was bred, the cosmopolite ardor of the Revolution,
the science of the Consulate and the "savans,” the position in prose was a series of papers under unphilosophic love of glory of the Empire, the the signature of Mr. Town, Jun.," which he worldly wisdom (without pushing it into folly) of gave to the Traveller, a new evening paper, Louis Philippe, and the changeful humors, the and received in remuneration a perquisite of firmness
, the weakness, the flourishing declamafive or six copies of the paper, and the de- the unbounded hopes, of the best actors in the exlight of beholding himself in long columns traordinary scenes now acting before the eyes of of print.
Europe in this present year 1850. As he himself Hunt was early versed in the humor of could not construct as well as he could pull down, Bonnel Thornton and Colman, but looks
so neither do his countrymen, with all the goodness upon it now as mere caricature in compari- represented by him in that particular than in others;
and greatness among them, appear to be less truly son with Goldsmith's. His admiration of but in pulling down he had the same vague desire of the best that could be set up; and when he was menced his theatrical criticisms, upon the most thought to oppose Christianity itself, he only perfectly novel ground of independence. He did it out of an impatient desire to see the law of refused to know actors and to accept tickets, love triumphant, and was only thought to be the adversary of its spirit
, because his revilers knew The first feat which he performed, and which nothing of it themselves.
he now regrets, was the annihilation of the “Voltaire, in an essay written by himself in the admired Master Betty. Kemble, a Colossus in which would do honor to our best writers, that when comparison, it was harder to overthrow, the poet saw the Adamo of Andreini at Florence, he though repeated attacks were made upon his pierced through the absurdity of the plot to the majestic dryness and deliberate nothings." hidden majesty of the subject. It may be said of It was not until the rising of a far greater himself, that he pierced through the conventional majesty of a great many subjects, to the hidden genius, who could by absurdity of the plot. He laid the axe to a heap “One touch of nature make the whole world kin," of savage abuses; pulled the corner-stones out of dungeons and inquisitions ; bowed and mocked the that Kemble lost ground, and “ faded bemost tyrannical absurdities out of countenance; fore Kean like a tragedy ghost.” Of his and raised one prodigious peal of laughter at su- criticisms at that time, of the living dramaperstition from Naples to the Baltic. He was the first man who got the power of opinion and com
tists, Morton, Colman, Reynolds, etc., Hunt mon sense openly recognized as a reigning author- speaks now with a graceful candor, and acity, and who made the acknowledgment of it a knowledges his mistake in condemning as point of wit and cunning, even with those who the fault of the writers what was rather that had hitherto thought they had the world to them of the age-its dearth of dramatic character ; selves."
and allows that without being excellent, We have always thought the general feel- there was more talent in their productions ing toward this a great organ of his age” than he supposed. too bitter and unrelenting. He came at a The gay and confident spirit of the young period when impurity pervaded the whole critic received a sudden check from ill-health, moral atmosphere, and superstition, with gibes which was increased to a long-continued and antics, sat like a night fiend on the pros- state of nervous debility by super-abstinence, trate heart of religion. Sense and sarcasm false regimen, and other mistaken methods predominating in his mind with a natural im- of cure. Restored finally by exercise tendpatience of restraint, his skepticism was the ing to enliven the blood, and amusements consequence; and introduced early to the serving to raise the animal spirits, he fell elegant and profligate coteries of Ninon de in love, for the hundredth time, and married. l'Enclos, and to the half political, half lite- The poet's heart, like that of his mother rary soirées at Sceaux, he found even there before him, was subdued by the fascination an exciting stimulus. His earlier works of elegant reading; and Mrs. Hunt still were neither remarkable for boldness nor maintains her conquest by reciting her husoriginality, and it has been observed that band's verses, as he gaily acknowledges, “it was not until success revealed to him better than ever.” the extent of his own powers that he became Toward the close of the reign of George reckless and free." Voltaire accomplished III., and about three years before the Regengreat ends, but he was an instrument obe-cy, Leigh Hunt and his brother John comdient to the power of a progress which menced the Examiner, in which were emumoved, and moves for ever. He was not lated the wit and fine writing of Addison and always stimulated by pure, high and noble Steele. Encouraged by the success of his aspirations, but often by an innate destruc- theatrical criticism, he ** set up for an oracle tiveness and the passion of success. Our in politics," with what he now conceives to author most happily designates the manner have been assumption and a spirit of conof Voltaire as consisting in an artful intermix- ceited foppery, which must have rendered ture of the conventional dignity and real him ridiculous in the eyes of the discerning. absurdity of what he is exposing, the tone Yet we believe it to be true that he was being as grave as the dignity seems to re- never, at that, or any other time, other than quire, and the absurdity coming out as if" an honest man"; and that he set out with unintentionally.
and continued to possess as good an amount It was in a paper entitled the “ News," of editorial qualification, not only as most kiun bu his brother John that. Hunt com- I writers “no older.” but as many much older.
quences that fell
How many editors can as honestly say, “I energy, and being ostentatious with his am fairly grounded in the history of my limbs and muscles, in proportion as he could country, I have carefully read her laws, – not draw them. He endeavored to bring I am proprietor of my journal, and I have Michael Angelo's apostles and prophets, no mercenary views whatever”?
with their superhuman ponderousness of inHunt, to keep clear of “patronage," and tention, into the common places of life. A in that spirit of martyrdom which had been student reading in a garden is all over insingularly inculcated from his cradle, denied tensity of muscle.” Of Bonnycastle, Fuseli’s himself now all political, as he had before friend, we are told that done all theatrical acquaintances, and was
· Bonnycastle, was a good fellow; he was a tall, fully prepared to endure all the evil conse- gaunt, long-headed man, with large features and
spectacles, and a deep internal voice, with a twang Reform in Parliament, liberality of opinion of rusticity in it; and he goggled over his plate in general, and a fusion of literary taste, were like a horse. I often thought that a bag of corn the alleged objects of the Examiner. Its would have hung well on him. His laugh was
equine, and showed his teeth upward at the sides. politics were rather general sentiments than wordsworth, who notices similar mysterious manparticular reflections. Hunt, himself, gave ifestations on the part of donkeys, would have his best hours and his warmest feelings all thought it ominous. Bonnycastle was passionately the time to poetry, and then, at the last and if the Edinburgh Review had just come out,
fond of quoting Shakspeare, and telling stories; moment, made a rush at his editorial duties would give us all the jokes in it. Perhaps Bonand sat up late at night to complete them. nycastle thought more highly of his talents than His miscellaneous criticisms did good service, the amount of them strictly warranted; a mistake and created a more general appreciation of to which scientific men appear to be more liable
than others, the universe they work in being so pure and valuable literature.
large, and their universality (in Bacon's sense of At the house of Mr. Hill, proprietor of the word) being often so small." the Monthly Mirror, Hunt fell in with a set of merry acquaintances, of whom he gives As a politician, Hunt was ardent even to such fine graphic sketches that we are sorry fierceness, but never ungenerous, and he has to refer our readers to his own volume rath- outlived most, if not all his political animoser than to repeat them here. These gentle- ities. The editors of the Examiner wished men were the wit, Dubois, with his infinite to see the reins of restriction loosened in the quips and cranks ; Theodore Hook, the hands of the individual, before the growing "merry jongleur," the extemporizer of verse strength and self-government of the many." and music, and Campbell, who in the rap- Mr. Hunt imagines he sees this in the presturous excitement of hearing himself paro- ent British government; but it must be redied, dashed his wig at him, exclaiming, “You membered that he has retired from the “stir dog! I'll throw
my laurels at you ;" Math- of the great Babel,” and is probably better ews, whose imitations in private were still conversant with the reminiscences of his formore admirable than on the stage; and the mer literary course, than with the political two Smiths, -James, of whose prose and movements of the present time, as his note verse our author observes that they were too in regard to Lord John Russell at the close full of the ridicule of city pretension, and of the second volume sufficiently testifies. adds the truly Johnsonian remark, that “ to He now speaks of George III. with as much be superior to anything it should not al- independence of spirit as can be expected ways be running in one's head;" and Horace, from a subject and admirer of his grandwho in the verse of Shelley was said to daughter Victoria, and moreover the recombine
ceiver of a pension at her royal bounty. “ Wit and sense,
He is careful to suggest that the descendVirtue and human knowledge, all that might
ants of his Majesty are preserved from any Make this dull world a business of delight." inheritance of obstinacy, incompetency, etc.,
by “the infusion of colder and more judiAt the table of Hunter, the bookseller, cious blood from another German stock.” assembled another set-Fuseli, Bonnycastle, Even literary criticism was in those days Kinnaird, and Godwin. “Fuseli,” Hunt says, deeply colored with politics, and when the “ was an ingenious caricaturist of Michael Eraminer, after outliving a series of formiAngelo. making great displays of mentall dable persecutions, had been established
about three years, Mr. John Hunt projected 1 of the arts' had named a wretched foreigner a quarterly magazine of literature and poli- bis historical painter, in disparagement or in igtics called the Reflector, of which his broth-norance of the merits of his own countrymen!
that this · Mæcenas of the age' patronized not a er became editor, and was aided by contri- single deserving writer! that this · Breather of butions from Lamb, Dyer, Barnes, Dr. Aikin, eloquence' could not say a few decent extempore and others. In this periodical first appeared words--if we are to judge, at least, from what he the “Feast of the Poets,” by which the said to his regiment on its embarkation for Portuauthor drew upon himself the enmity of gall ithat this Conqueror of hearts was the disalmost every living poet, and especially Gif- [bravo! Messieurs of the Post !]—this · Adonis in ford, of whom he still speaks in somewhat loveliness' was a corpulent man of fifty ! in short, of his former tone, and with a bitter person. honorable
, virtuous, true, and immortal Prince,
that this delightful, blissful, wise. pleasurable, ality equalling that for which the great satirist
was a violator of his word, a libertine, over head has himself been censured. He now real- and ears in disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, ized the truth of Steele's remark, that “the the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man life of a wit is a warfare upon
earth." who has just closed half a century without one At an annual dinner of the Irish upon the respect of posterity!"
single claim on the gratitude of his country, or St. Patrick's Day, the decline of the Prince of Wales's popularity was remarkably evinced.
Mr. Hunt thinks "the very sincere tone" His broken engagements and his violated of this libel might have furnished the promises in regard to the Catholic claims Prince with a ground for pardoning it. caused his name, which used to be hailed Had the Prince pardoned him he would with rapture at the dinner in question, to be have overlooked all the Prince's faults. He now received with hisses. Apologizing for considers himself “ bound now to pardon the necessity, in self-defence, of repeating the Prince in consideration of the circumanything against the Queen's kindred, and stances which mould the character of every skilfully suggesting his excuse on the ground human being;" and doubts whether he himthat the very feelings which would cause self was warranted in his own person to him to oppose one sovereign might render a demand more virtues from any human him the more devoted subject of another, being than nature and education had given.” our author gives at full length the article
Everybody gives Leigh Hunt the charcontaining the “libe!" which resulted in two acter of being frank and simple-minded. years
' imprisonment and a fine of five hun- The above is certainly naïve to the last dedred pounds. It describes the speeches of
gree. Or, is it not Punch in a new dress, Mr. Sheridan and others present at the celebration, after which it goes on to answer an the checkered legs of Harlequin Vanity
a very flimsy disguise; and do we not see attack from the Morning Post, and to re- strutting below the over-sized mask of a longverses which are said, literally, to address visaged candor ?
Although Hunt's liberal and cosmopolite the Prince in the following terms :
politics were unpopular, they produced, to “* You are the Glory of the people'— You are some extent, the effect he desired. Fearless, the Protector of the arts – You are the Macenas partly through an honesty of purpose, and áll hearts, wipe away tears, excite desire and love, partly through a most complete self-suffiand win beauty toward you'- You breathe elo ciency, his greatest sin was, at the most, an quence'- You inspire the Graces – You are an indecorous warmth of expression, and the Adonis in loveliness !” Thus gifted,' it proceeds very injustice of his confinement caused in English,
many a true heart to “ leap towards him * Thus gifted with each grace of mind, Born to delight and bless mankind;
in brotherly sympathy."
The sentence of imprisonment was re-
ceived with manly courage. “My brother The nation's safeguard and its pride;
and I," he says, "instinctively pressed each With monarchs of immortal fame Shall bright renown enroll thy name.'
other's arm. It was a heavy blow; but “What person," says the Examiner, "upac: the pressure that acknowledged it encouraged quainted with the true state of the case, would the resolution to bear it; and I do not beimagine, in reading these astounding eulogies, that this - Glory of the people' was the subject of mil. lieve that either of us exchanged a word kons of shrugs and reproaches ! that this' Protector afterward upon the subject."
The dreary horrors of the prison were commenced in prison, and published in augmented at the outset by the insolence of 1816. It is a poem full of exquisite dethe jailor, who became, after a while, more scription, and scenery so perfectly Italian, civil through the mysterious influence of a it seems to glow as if warmed beneath Greek Pindar which he saw among his Italian skies. Like the rest of his poetry prisoner's books, the unintelligible character it degenerates often into the fantastic and of which gave him a notion of something trifling, but rises again to the direct and superior even to himself. Many of the forcible. The author regrets, and we think evils of the prison-life were, on the other with reason, the new casting of this beautihand, obviated, or at least ameliorated, by ful poem, which lost, by the alterations, Hunt's own cheerful and enduring spirit. much of its pathos and fidelity to nature. " To regions of his own his genius true It was grossly censured by Southey and Took happy flights."
others, more in the spirit of party and poliAnd when, after some months, ill health tics than in just literary discrimination. occasioned his being removed to a part of
The Examiner continued, with its former the jail called the Infirmary, he was so
fearlessness, fortunate as to occupy two rooms which had “Showing truth to flattered state," never been used. "These he adorned ac. and treating the Prince Regent with anycording to his own fanciful and elegant thing but solemnity. It finally declined under taste, and converted a little yard, which the ascendency of the Tories and the desertion belonged to them, into a garden. His wife of Reform by the Whigs. Its failure was and children being permitted to remain owing also, in a great measure, to Hunt's with him, he affected to feel at liberty, and ignorance of the business part of the pubwould draw on his gloves, and put his book lication. He deeply regrets now those habits under his arm as he stepped out into his and accidents of education which led him to bounded pleasure-ground of a morning, re-take books for the only ends of life. Hunt was questing his wife not to wait dinner if he should be late ; thus by the liveliness of was designated the " cockney school,” so
among the most prominent of what, in ridicule, imagination, and the beautiful adaptation called from some of the leaders being Lonof the will to the circumstance, cheating doners, and engaged in the public press. his hard fate of its wretchedness, convert-" Their peculiarities," writes Mr. Milnes, ing ugliness into beauty, misfortune into - were a lavish importance given to things playfulness, and enjoying what, in allusion trivial and common. They drew their into another, he calls “ the poet's privilege of spiration from books and from themselves, surmounting sorrow with joy."
and gave, in imitation of some of the old Freedom came at last, but brought not, at least immediately, the relief of mind arities which was ridiculous transferred from
ast immediately, the relief of mind poets, a pre-eminence to individual peculiwhich was to be expected. “ Partly from ill them to the habits and circumstances of health,” says our author, “ and partly from
our time.” Hunt says : habit, the day of my liberation brought a good deal of pain."
"The jests about Londoners and cockneys did “ An illness of a long standing, which required concerned. They might as well have said that
not affect me in the least, as far as my faith was very different treatment, had by this time been burnt in upon me by the iron that enters into the soul of Hampstead was not beautiful, or Richmond lovely;
or that Chaucer and Milton were cockneys when the captive, wrap it in flowers as he
and I am ashamed to say, that after stopping a little they went out of London to lie on the grass and at the house of my friend Alsager, I had not the look at the daisies. The cockney school of poetry
is the most illustrious in England; for, to say courage to continue looking at the shoals of people nothing of Pope and Gray, who were both veritapassing to and fro, as the coach drove up the ble cockneys," born within the sound of Bow Strand. The whole business of life seemed a
Bell,' Milton was so too; and Chaucer and Spenser hideous impertinence. The first pleasant sensa
were both natives of the city. Of the four greatest tion I experienced was when the coach turned into the New Road, and I beheld the old hills of English poets, Sbakspeare only was not a Lon
doner.” my affection standing where they used to do, and breathing me a welcome.”
The reviewers in Blackwood and the The Story of Rimini," expanded from a Quarterly were destitute of poetic percepshort passage in Dante's “Inferno," was ltion, and directed an unrefined and un