George Hardinge

E. V. Lucas, in A Swan and her Friends (1907) 216-17.

This gentleman was an alleged wit and a real lawyer, who dabbled in literature. I find in Notes and Queries in 1862 an amusing story of his first meeting with the Swan [Anna Seward], contributed by a nameless writer ... : "One afternoon Miss Seward received a card, to the effect that Mr. Hardinge, in passing through Lichfield, desired to pay his respects to a lady so distinguished, &c. &c., which was as complimentarily acknowledged by an invitation to 'a dish of tea.' Mr. Hardinge presented himself accordingly; and, the souchong being removed, abruptly, and a propos de rien, asked her had she ever heard Milton read? The Paradise Lost was produced, and opened at a venture; the judge jumped upon the table, and read some pages, not to her astonishment only, but to her profound admiration. 'Never,' said Miss Seward to my father, 'never before did I hear Milton read, and never since.' As abruptly her visitant closed the volume, descended from the table, made his bow, and without a word disappeared."