Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)
A Blupete Biography Page

Concluding Remarks, Part 6 to the Life & Works of
Leigh Hunt

The artist, Benjamin Robert Haydon, a contemporary of and an early friend of Leigh Hunt's:
"He [Hunt] had been educated at Christ Hospital, and was not deficient in classical knowledge, but yet not a scholar. Then we were nearly of an age; he being only three years older than myself, and he had an open affectionate manner which was most engaging, and a literary, lounging laziness of poetical gossip which to an artist's mind was very improving. At the time of our acquaintance, he really was, whether in private conversation or surrounded by his friends, in honesty of principle and unfailing love of truth, in wit and fun, quotation and impromptu, one of the most delightful beings I ever knew."38
William Hazlitt was of the view, what our thoughts of Leigh Hunt, as came to us through his writings, were but improved through personal acquaintance:
"This is a charge that none of his friends will bring against Mr. Leigh Hunt. He improves upon acquaintance. The author translates admirably, into the man. Indeed, the very faults of his style are virtues in the individual. His natural gaiety and sprightliness of manner, his high animal spirits, and the vinous quality of his mind, produce an immediate fascination and intoxication in those who come in contact with him, and carry off in society whatever in his writings may to some seem flat and impertinent. From great sanguineness of temper, from great quickness and unsuspecting simplicity, he runs on to the public as he does at his own fire-side, and talks about himself, forgetting that he is not always among friends. His look, his tone are required to point many things that he says: his frank, cordial manner reconciles you instantly to a little over-bearing, over-weening selfcomplacency. 'To be admired, he needs but to be seen': but perhaps he ought to be seen to be fully appreciated. No one ever sought his society who did not come away with a more favourable opinion of him: no one was ever disappointed, except those who had entertained idle prejudices against him. He sometimes trifles with his readers, or tires of a subject (from not being urged on by the stimulus of immediate sympathy); but in conversation he is all life and animation, combining the vivacity of the school-boy with the resources of the wit and the taste of the scholar. The personal character, the spontaneous impulses, do not appear to excuse the author, unless you are acquainted with his situation and habits: like some great beauty who gives herself what we think strange airs and graces under a mask, but who is instantly forgiven when she shews her face."39
And finally, Leigh Hunt, of himself, was to write:
"I am not conscious of having given praise for policy's sake, or blame for malignity's; and I never will. A strict adherence to truth, and a recurrence to first principles, are the only things calculated to bring back happier times of our literature and constitution; and however humble as an individual, I have found myself formidable as a lover of truth, and shall never cease to exert myself in its cause, as long as the sensible will endure my writings, and the honest appreciate my intentions."40
Leigh Hunt died on August 28th, 1859 in his 75 year; he was buried in the place of his choice, Kensall Green Cemetery.
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Peter Landry

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2011