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Hunt, Leigh

· Leigh HUNT: Deaths of Little Children · LEIGH HUNT: On Receiving A Crown Of Ivy From JOHN KEATS · LEIGH HUNT: Ariadne waking · LEIGH HUNT: JENNY KISS’D ME · LEIGH HUNT: BELLMAN’S VERSES FOR 1814 · LETTER TO LEIGH HUNT BY JOHN KEATS · LEIGH HUNT: TO JOHN KEATS

Leigh HUNT: Deaths of Little Children

huntLEIGH011Deaths of Little Children
by Leigh Hunt

A Grecian philosopher being asked why he wept for the death of his son, since the sorrow was in vain, replied, “I weep on that account.” And his answer became his wisdom. It is only for sophists to contend that we, whose eyes contain the fountains of tears, need never give way to them. It would be unwise not to do so on some occasions. Sorrow unlocks them in her balmy moods. The first bursts may be bitter and overwhelming; but the soil on which they pour would be worse without them. They refresh the fever of the soul—the dry misery which parches the countenance into furrows, and renders us liable to our most terrible “flesh-quakes.”

There are sorrows, it is true, so great, that to give them some of the ordinary vents is to run a hazard of being overthrown. These we must rather strengthen ourselves to resist, or bow quietly and drily down, in order to let them pass over us, as the traveller does the wind of the desert. But where we feel that tears would relieve us, it is false philosophy to deny ourselves at least that first refreshment; and it is always false consolation to tell people that because they cannot help a thing, they are not to mind it. The true way is, to let them grapple with the unavoidable sorrow, and try to win it into gentleness by a reasonable yielding. There are griefs so gentle in their very nature that it would be worse than false heroism to refuse them a tear. Of this kind are the deaths of infants. Particular circumstances may render it more or less advisable to indulge in grief for the loss of a little child; but, in general, parents should be no more advised to repress their first tears on such an occasion, than to repress their smiles towards a child surviving, or to indulge in any other sympathy. It is an appeal to the same gentle tenderness; and such appeals are never made in vain. The end of them is an acquittal from the harsher bonds of affliction—from the typing down of the spirit to one melancholy idea.

It is the nature of tears of this kind, however strongly they may gush forth, to run into quiet waters at last. We cannot easily, for the whole course of our lives, think with pain of any good and kind person whom we have lost. It is the divine nature of their qualities to conquer pain and death itself; to turn the memory of them into pleasure; to survive with a placid aspect in our imaginations. We are writing at this moment just opposite a spot which contains the grave of one inexpressibly dear to us. We see from our window the trees about it, and the church spire. The green fields lie around. The clouds are travelling overhead, alternately taking away the sunshine and restoring it. The vernal winds, piping of the flowery summer-time, are nevertheless calling to mind the far-distant and dangerous ocean, which the heart that lies in that grave had many reasons to think of. And yet the sight of this spot does not give us pain. So far from it, it is the existence of that grave which doubles every charm of the spot; which links the pleasures of our childhood and manhood together; which puts a hushing tenderness in the winds, and a patient joy upon the landscape; which seems to unite heaven and earth, mortality and immortality, the grass of the tomb and the grass of the green field; and gives a more maternal aspect to the whole kindness of nature. It does not hinder gaiety itself. Happiness was what its tenant, through all her troubles, would have diffused. To diffuse happiness, and to enjoy it, is not only carrying on her wishes, but realising her hopes; and gaiety, freed from its only pollutions, malignity and want of sympathy, is but a child playing about the knees of its mother.

The remembered innocence and endearments of a child stand us instead of virtues that have died older. Children have not exercised the voluntary offices of friendship; they have not chosen to be kind and good to us; nor stood by us, from conscious will, in the hour of adversity. But they have shared their pleasures and pains with us as well as they could; the interchange of good offices between us has, of necessity, been less mingled with the troubles of the world; the sorrow arising from their death is the only one which we can associate with their memories. These are happy thoughts that cannot die. Our loss may always render them pensive; but they will not always be painful. It is a part of the benignity of Nature that pain does not survive like pleasure, at any time, much less where the cause of it is an innocent one. The smile will remain reflected by memory, as the moon reflects the light upon us when the sun has gone into heaven.

When writers like ourselves quarrel with earthly pain (we mean writers of the same intentions, without implying, of course, anything about abilities or otherwise), they are misunderstood if they are supposed to quarrel with pains of every sort. This would be idle and effeminate. They do not pretend, indeed, that humanity might not wish, if it could, to be entirely free from pain; for it endeavours, at all times, to turn pain into pleasure: or at least to set off the one with the other, to make the former a zest and the latter a refreshment. The most unaffected dignity of suffering does this, and, if wise, acknowledges it. The greatest benevolence towards others, the most unselfish relish of their pleasures, even at its own expense, does but look to increasing the general stock of happiness, though content, if it could, to have its identity swallowed up in that splendid contemplation. We are far from meaning that this is to be called selfishness. We are far, indeed, from thinking so, or of so confounding words. But neither is it to be called pain when most unselfish, if disinterestedness by truly understood. The pain that is in it softens into pleasure, as the darker hue of the rainbow melts into the brighter. Yet even if a harsher line is to be drawn between the pain and pleasure of the most unselfish mind (and ill-health, for instance, may draw it), we should not quarrel with it if it contributed to the general mass of comfort, and were of a nature which general kindliness could not avoid. Made as we are, there are certain pains without which it would be difficult to conceive certain great and overbalancing pleasures. We may conceive it possible for beings to be made entirely happy; but in our composition something of pain seems to be a necessary ingredient, in order that the materials may turn to as fine account as possible, though our clay, in the course of ages and experience, may be refined more and more. We may get rid of the worst earth, though not of earth itself.

Now the liability to the loss of children—or rather what renders us sensible of it, the occasional loss itself—seems to be one of these necessary bitters thrown into the cup of humanity. We do not mean that every one must lose one of his children in order to enjoy the rest; or that every individual loss afflicts us in the same proportion. We allude to the deaths of infants in general. These might be as few as we could render them. But if none at all ever took place, we should regard every little child as a man or woman secured; and it will easily be conceived what a world of endearing cares and hopes this security would endanger. The very idea of infancy would lose its continuity with us. Girls and boys would be future men and women, not present children. They would have attained their full growth in our imaginations, and might as well have been men and women at once. On the other hand, those who have lost an infant, are never, as it were, without an infant child. They are the only persons who, in one sense, retain it always, and they furnish their neighbours with the same idea. The other children grow up to manhood and womanhood, and suffer all the changes of mortality. This one alone is rendered an immortal child. Death has arrested it with his kindly harshness, and blessed it into an eternal image of youth and innocence.

Of such as these are the pleasantest shapes that visit our fancy and our hopes. They are the ever-smiling emblems of joy; the prettiest pages that wait upon imagination. Lastly, “Of these are the kingdom of heaven.” Wherever there is a province of that benevolent and all-accessible empire, whether on earth or elsewhere, such are the gentle spirits that must inhabit it. To such simplicity, or the resemblance of it, must they come. Such must be the ready confidence of their hearts and creativeness of their fancy. And so ignorant must they be of the “knowledge of good and evil,” losing their discernment of that self-created trouble, by enjoying the garden before them, and not being ashamed of what is kindly and innocent.

Deaths of Little Children
by Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859)

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Archive G-H, Galerie des Morts, Hunt, Leigh


LEIGH HUNT: On Receiving A Crown Of Ivy From JOHN KEATS

huntLEIGH011

Leigh Hunt
(1784 – 1859)

On Receiving A Crown Of Ivy From John Keats

A Crown of of ivy! I submit my head
To the young hand that gives it, –young, ’tis true,
But with a right, for ’tis a poet’s too.
How pleasant the leaves feel! and how they spread
With their broad angles, like a nodding shed
Over both eyes! and how complete and new,
As on my hand I lean, to feel them strew
My sense with freshness, — Fancy’s rustling bed!
Tress-tossing girls, with smell of flowers and grapes
Come dancing by, and downward piping cheeks,
And up-thrown cymbals, and Silenus old
Lumpishly borne, and many trampling shapes,–
And lastly, with his bright eyes on her bent,
Bacchus, — whose bride has of his hand fast hold.

Leigh Hunt poetry
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Archive K-L, Hunt, Leigh, Keats, John


LEIGH HUNT: Ariadne waking

huntLEIGH011

Leigh Hunt
(1784 – 1859)

Ariadne Waking

The moist and quiet morn was scarcely breaking,
When Ariadne in her bower was waking;
Her eyelids still were closing, and she heard
But indistinctly yet a little bird,
That in the leaves o’erhead, waiting the sun,
Seemed answering another distant one.
She waked, but stirred not, only just to please
Her pillow-nestling cheek; while the full seas,
The birds, the leaves, the lulling love o’ernight
The happy thought of the returning light,
The sweet, self-willed content, conspired to keep
Her senses lingering in the feel of sleep;
And with a little smile she seemed to say,
“I know my love is near me, and ’tis day.”

Leigh Hunt poetry
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Hunt, Leigh


LEIGH HUNT: JENNY KISS’D ME

huntLEIGH012

Leigh Hunt
(1784 – 1859)

Jenny kiss’d Me

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.

Leigh Hunt poetry
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Hunt, Leigh


LEIGH HUNT: BELLMAN’S VERSES FOR 1814

huntLEIGH012

Leigh Hunt
(1784 – 1859)

Bellman’s Verses For 1814

Huzza, my boys! our friends the Dutch have risen,
Our good old friends, and burst the Tyrant’s prison!
Aye, and have done it without bloodshed too,
Like men, to sense as well as freedom true.
The moment, I’ll be sworn, that Ocean heard it,
With a new dance of waters it bestirr’d it;
And Trade, reviving from her trance of death,
Took a new lease of sunshine and of breath.
Let’s aid them, my fine fellows, all we can:—
Where’s finer business for an Englishman—
Who knows what ’tis to eat his own good bread,
And see his table-cloth securely spread—
Than helping to set free a neighbour’s oven?
Huzza! The Dutch for ever! Orange Boven!

Leigh Hunt poetry
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Hunt, Leigh


LETTER TO LEIGH HUNT BY JOHN KEATS

huntLEIGH011Letter to Leigh Hunt by John Keats

Margate, May 10th, 1817

My dear Hunt

The little Gentleman that sometimes lurks in a gossips bowl ought to have come in very likeness of a coasted crab and choaked me outright for not having answered your Letter ere this – however you must not suppose that I was in Town to receive it, no, it followed me to the isle of Wight and I got it just as I was going to pack up for Margate, for reasons which you anon shall hear. On arriving at this treeless affair I wrote to my Brother George to request C. C. C. to do the thing you wot of respecting Rimini; and George tells me he has undertaken it with great Pleasure; so I hope there has been an understanding between you for many Proofs – – C. C. C. is well acquainted with Bensley. Now why did you not send the Key of your Cupboard which I know was full of Papers? We would have lock’d them all in a trunk together with those you told me to destroy; which indeed I did not do for fear of demolishing Receipts. There not being a more unpleasant thing in the world (saving a thousand and one others) than to pay a Bill twice. Mind you – old Wood’s a very Varmant – sharded in Covetousness – And now I am upon a horrid subject – what a horrid one you were upon last sunday and well you handled it. The last Examiner was a Battering Ram against Christianity – Blasphemy – Tertullian – Erasmus – Sr. Philip Sidney. And then the dreadful Petzelians and their expiation by Blood – and do Christians shudder at the same thing in a Newspaper which they attribute to their God in its most aggravated form? What is to be the end of this? I must mention Hazlitt’s Southey – O that he had left out the grey hairs! Or that they had been in any other Paper not concluding with such a Thunderclap – that sentence about making a Page of the feeling of a whole life appears to me like a Whale’s back in the Sea of Prose. I ought to have said a word on Shakspeare’s Chrisitanity – there are two, which I have not looked over with you, touching the thing: the one for, the other against. That in favour is in Measure for Measure Act 2. S. 2 Isab. Alas! alas!

Why all the Souls that were, were forfeit once And he that might the vantage best have took, Found out the Remedy –

That against is in Twelfth Night. Act 3. S. 2. Maria – for there is no Christian, that means to be saved by believing rightly, can ever believe such impossible Passages of grossness! Before I come to the Nymphs I must get through all disagreeables – I went to the Isle of Wight – thought so much about Poetry so long together that I could not get to sleep at night – and moreover, I know not how it was, I could not get wholesome food – By this means in a Week or so I became not over capable in my upper Stories, and set off pell mell for Margate, at least 150 Miles – because forsooth I fancied that I should like my old Lodging here, and could contrive to do without Trees. Another thing I was too much in Solitude, and consequently was obliged to be in continual burning of thought as an only resource. However Tom is with me at present and we are very comfortable. We intend though to get among some Trees. How have you got on among them? How are the Nymphs? I suppose they have led you a fine dance – Where are you now. In Judea, Cappadocia, or the Parts of Lybia about Cyrene, Strangers from “Heaven, Hues and Prototypes. I wager you have given several new turns to the old saying “Now the Maid was fair and pleasant to look on” as well as made a little variation in “once upon a time” perhaps too you have rather varied “thus endeth the first Lesson” I hope you have made a Horseshoebusiness of – “unsuperfluous lift” “faint Bowers” and fibrous roots. I vow that I have been down in the Mouth lately at this Work. These last two days however I have felt more confident – I have asked myself so often why I should be a Poet more than other Men, – seeing how great a thing it is, – how great things are to be gained by it – What a thing to be in the Mouth of Fame – that at last the Idea has grown so monstrously beyond my seeming Power of attainment that the other day I nearly consented with myself to drop into a Phæton – yet ’tis a disgrace to fail even in a huge attempt, and at this moment I drive the thought from me. I began my Poem about a Fortnight since and have done some every day except travelling ones – Perhaps I may have done a good deal for the time but it appears such a Pin’s Point to me that I will not coppy any out. When I consider that so many of these Pin points go to form a Bodkin point (God send I end not my Life with a bare Bodkin, in its modern sense) and that it requires a thousand and more unpleasant (it may come among the thousand and one) than to be so journeying and miss the Goal at last. But I intend to whistle all these cogitations into the Sea where I hope they will breed Storms violent enough to block up all exit from Russia. Does Shelley go on telling strange Stories of the Death of Kings? Tell him there are strange Stories of the death of Poets – some have died before they were conceived “how do you make that out Master Vellum”. Does Mrs. S. cut Bread and Butter as neatly as ever? Tell her to procure some fatal Scissors and cut the thread of Life of all to be disappointed Poets. Does Mrs Hunt tear linen in half as straight as ever? Tell her to tear from the book of Life all blank Leaves. Remember me to them all – to Miss Kent and the little ones all.

Your sincere friend

John Keats alias Junkets

Letter to Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859) by John Keats (1795 – 1821)
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Archive K-L, Hunt, Leigh, Keats, John


LEIGH HUNT: TO JOHN KEATS

leighunt

Leigh Hunt
(1784 – 1859)

To John Keats

‘Tis well you think me truly one of those,
Whose sense discerns the loveliness of things;
For surely as I feel the bird that sings
Behind the leaves, or dawn as it up grows,
Or the rich bee rejoicing as he goes,
Or the glad issue of emerging springs,
Or overhead the glide of a dove’s wings,
Or turf, or trees, or, midst of all, repose.
And surely as I feel things lovelier still,
The human look, and the harmonious form
Containing woman, and the smile in ill,
And such a heart as Charles’s, wise and warm,–
As surely as all this, I see, ev’n now,
Young Keats, a flowering laurel on your brow.

Leigh Hunt poetry
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive G-H, Archive K-L, Hunt, Leigh, Keats, John


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