1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Aaron Hill

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, in "Life of Mr. Richardson" Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. Barbauld (1804) 1:cxciiii-cxciv.



Hill was a schemer, an unsuccessful one all his life. During the greatest part of this correspondence, he lived retired at Plaistow, an aguish situation, from which the health of himself and his family seem to have suffered much. In this retirement he wrote several poems; the following lines, in which he speaks of himself, are very touching:

Cover'd in Fortune's shade, I rest reclin'd,
My griefs all silent, and my joys resign'd;
With patient eye life's coming gloom survey,
Nor shake th' outhasting sands, nor bid them stay;
Yet, while from life my setting prospects fly,
Fain would my mind's weak offspring shun to die;
Fain would their hope some light thro' time explore,
The name's kind passport, when the man's no more.

His style, in his letters, is turgid and cloudy, but every now and then illuminated with a ray of genius; as, when speaking of his hectic complaints, he says, (alluding to the march of the Israelites) "they are a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night." Hill wanted judgment and temper. He speaks with unmeasured contempt of those he dislikes, and is equally lavish in panegyric. Richardson has written on the back of some of his letters — "Too high praise." Their friendship appears to have been warm and uninterrupted.