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us, *? always rather scrupulously, though most simply and modestly dressed." Carlyle himself grimly accorded to him tlip name of "Kind of Talking Nightingale."
Leigh Hunt's affectionate nature was alive almost in death. He spent his last breath in asking of the welfare of his beloved ones, and in sending love and messages to the absent. He died at the age of seventy-five, the survivor, by many years, of the two poets with whom he is associated. To the last he is said, even in outward form, '' to have forcibly recalled Shelley's fine picture of him in his 'Elegy on Keats,' written nearly forty years before ":
"What softer voice is bashed over the dead'
Athwart what brow is that dark mantle thrown?
In mockery of monumental stone,
If it be he, who, gentlest of the wise,
Let me not vex with inharmonious sighs
The characteristics of his poetry are sprightly fancy, animated description, and quaint originality, in a style which he has made his own, and in which, with many imitators, he has been pronounced "without a rival." His two greatest works are the "Legend of Florence" and the "Story of Rimini." The latter poem, published in 1816, has given him a place of his own as distinct as that of any other poetical writer of his day; and much that he has produced is brilliant either with wit and humor or with tenderness and beauty.
Critics have praised Leigh Hunt's modernizations of Chaucer, and have said of him that "no modern poet has so entered into the true spirit of the father of onr poetry." We have unhappily fallen upon a time when that mental calisthenics by which the meaning of a poet is wrenched from his verse is far more attractive to the multitude than the poem itself. By this fad of the hour the appetite for poetry proper is no doubt vitiated; and Leigh Hunt, " piping but as the linnet sings," his verse in structure almost perfect, but clear and simple and without the least spice of riddle or conceit, seems but a tame poet beside the "maker and moulder" of this involved song. It cannot be denied that his themes are often simple, and having no higher purpose than that of a moment's entertainment; but sometimes, as a moral teacher, he has forcibly appealed to the universal heart and conscience. We could ill spare from our literature his "Abou Ben Adhem," which contains " in a nut-shell" the entire creed of social ethics. Custom cannot stale a thing so perfect in structure and so divine in sentiment.
"Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
"Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
"Abon spoke more low,
Bat cheerly still; and said,'I pray thee, then,
Craik has happily said of Leigh Hunt, " Into whatever he has written he has put a living soul; " and in some of his best pieces we find not only perfection of versification, but originality of genius. He has at least given us to drink of the "well of English undefiled." In his prose he is, in his own way, only excelled by Charles Lamb; and as a true poet his claim is beyond dispute. Here is an uupretentious sonnet; but who, in fourteen lines, has better suggested the wisdom of prizing our " blessings" ere "they take their flight"? It is entitled "An Angel in the House " : —
"How sweet it were, if without feeble fright,
John Keats, whom Mrs. Browning has distinguished as,
"The man who never stepped
was in his life, in his literary progress, and in his " sad decline," intimately associated with Leigh Hunt, — his steadfast friend.
"Nature," as some one has observed, "often makes apparent mistakes in casting nativities; " and it cannot but be seen that though in the main exact, she does now and then put a poor passenger of time in the wrong coach. Had John Keats been ushered into the Elizabethan age, when the singing-birds each made his own song in his own way (rich, varied, and fresh, yet, mayhap, with many quaint little trills and quavers; sweet and winsome withal, but not distinctly included in any score), and no bloodthirsty reviewer was at hand to aim his cruel arrows among the song-tipsy warblers, crying, "Wretches, how dare you? Take that, and that, and that I Sing by note, or die !" — had Keats, with his wild, rich, tropical growth of song, the fine poetic madness burning in his brain, and the wanton, turbulent melody thrilling his whole being, been put in these pleasant places of song, it is impossible to say what he might have done. Unhappily for himself and mankind, he came into this workaday world in 1795, in the house of a London livery-stable keeper, who was no less than his own grandfather. He may be supposed to have eaten his beef and pudding, to have thumbed his school-books and played his cricket, like any ordinary English lad; and at fifteen he was, like a mere matter-o'-fact mortal, apprenticed to a surgeon, and it is not even recorded of him that over the gallipots of the apothecary he dreamed of—
"Emptying some dull opiate to the drains."
Most of his time was, however, devoted to the cultivation of his literary talents. During his apprenticeship he made and carefully wrote out a translation of Virgil's JEneid, and instructed himself in Greek and Italian. Leigh Hunt, being shown some of 'his verses, was struck with their exuberant promise and with the fine, fervid countenance of the writer, and became his first critic and one of his earliest and latest friends.
In 1818 Keats published his first, longest, and most defective poem, "Endymion." The poem fell into the hands of Gifford, — a critic organically coarse and rough, and as incapable, both mentally and physically, of analyzing the sky-colored, flower-scented fancies of Keats as an oyster would be to write an essay on the song of an oriole. A young and sensitive poet, flattered by partial friends, and ardently panting for distinction, the seeds of a fatal malady already sown in his fragile coustitution were fearfully ripened by the savage onslaught of this brutal critic on the first-born of his brain. The agony of his sufferings is said to have resembled insanity, and suicide was only prevented by assiduous watching. The rupture of a blood-vessel ensued; and the fatal disease which cut short his embittered existence began its deadly work.
Keats did not abandon poetry. As well try to smother the song of a robin among the apple-boughs of Maj- as to silence by a critique the singing of a true poet, who gravitates to song by a law as inevitable as that which sends a smoke-wreath curling up into the ether or a silvery runlet down a hill-slope. In 1820 he brought out his second volume, " Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems." These verses met with a just appreciation which amply atoned for previous injustice. Jeffrey (we kiss reverently the hem of his garment for the kindliness that soothed the wounded pride of poor Keats) in the " Edinburgh Review " eloquently reviewed the volume.
This favorable judgment, which was confirmed by the