A poet, critic, and journalist who began publishing in his teens, Leigh Hunt grew up to write for, and edit both the best and worst journals in England in the 19th century. In 1808, He and his brother established The Examiner, a journal that lasted 78 years and became a forum for some of the best writers of the century. He also founded the fantastically unsuccessful political journal, The Liberal, that never got off the ground, and the Tatler, which failed after only two years. His writing built his life and broke it, and built it again, giving him notoriety and success on the one hand, and poverty and imprisonment on the other. His close associations with great writers like Hazlitt, Lamb, Shelley, and Byron, along with his own writings attest to his ability to recognize and create great literature, but at the same time, his many public blunders call into question his judgment and tact. Toward the end of his life, greater financial security afforded him more time to write and he produced some of his best work. Between 1840 and his death in 1859, Hunt produced several successful plays, translations, memoirs, multi-volume collections, poems, as well as an autobiography.
(Compiled by Joey Franklin)
Essays by Leigh Hunt
A blazing fire, a warm rug, candles lit and curtains drawn, the kettle on for tea, and finally, the cat before you, attracting your attention—it is a scene which everybody likes, unless he has a morbid aversion to cats.
It is part of my business to look about for helps to reflection; and, for this reason, among many others, I indulge myself in keeping a good fire from morning till night.
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.
Being writers, we are of necessity dreamers; for thinking disposes the bodily faculties to be more than usually affected by the causes that generally produce dreaming.
It is a pity that none of the great geniuses, to whose lot it has fallen to describe a future state, has given us his own notions of heaven.
Remember, gentle reader, that talents are not to be despised in the humblest walks of life; we will add, nor in the muddiest.
As there is ‘a soul of goodness in things evil,’ so there is a soul of humour in things dry.
One of the completest of all is the fair, where she walks through an endless round of noise, and toys, and gallant apprentices, and wonders. Here she is invited in by courteous and well-dressed people, as if she were a mistress.
nothing while I live and think can deprive me of my value for such treasures.
A Lover of Wisdom claims no more merit to himself for his title than is claimed by the lover of any other lady; all his praise consists in having discovered her beauty and good sense.
the advantage, nay even the test, of seeing and hearing, at any time, is not in the seeing and hearing, but in the ideas we realise, and the pleasure we derive.
Death serves to make us think, not of itself, but of what is about us.
Supposing then that we are in a reasonable state of health and comfort in other respects, we say that a walk home at night has its merits, if you choose to meet with them.
The beauty of this unlimited power of suggestion in writing is, that you may take up the driest and most commonplace of all possible subjects, and strike a light out of it to warm your intellect and your heart by.
A window is a frame for other pictures besides its own.
To be actually on the spot, to look with one's own eyes upon the places in which our favorite heroes or heroines underwent the circumstances that made us love them--this may surely make up for an advantage on the side of the description in the book.