1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Richard Steele

Leigh Hunt to J. F., 20 June 1831; Correspondence of Leigh Hunt (1862) 1:263-64.



I need not tell you how highly your gift [an original set of Tatlers] is valued. I have been carrying it about the house with me, like a child who has had a picture book given it; and have put it among some favourite books on a shelf, just before the table at which I write, that it may help to give me pleasant thoughts. I persuade myself that Steele may have had this identical copy in his hand, perhaps Pope, perhaps my Lady Suffolk. God knows how many of the wits and charmers of the that time; and the advertisements look as if Lintot and Tonson were still the booksellers. One feels as if one ought to go and buy the New Atlantis at Mr. Morphew's, near Stationer's Hall; or to look at the house that is to be let at Moardon, in Surrey, belonging to "Sir Richard Garth." I observe, among a collection of poems "by the most eminent hands," some pieces I never before heard of, "by the author of the Tale of a Tub," which makes me think I ought to go and buy them, though the book is published by Edmund Curll, which renders them of doubtful authenticity. In short, when one sees these things, does it not make one think that Steele and others ought to be eternally as alive among us personally as they are intellectually; and that, by some delightful and fantastic compromise with vicissitude, we should still have their wigs and their wit about us, with Reform and the French Revolution besides? in other words, all the old good things that ever were, together with the new ones!