1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Leigh Hunt

Mary Shelley to Leigh Hunt, 2 October 1824; Correspondence of Leigh Hunt (1862) 1:240-42.



You must know that Southey has attacked Elia's religion in the Quarterly, and whined over the fate of T. L. H. (my favourite child) for not having better religious principles instilled into him. This roused Lamb, and, on the spur of the moment, he has written a reply, which has appeared in the London Magazine. With regard to religion, he turns the tables on Southey, and tells him that no one can tell what religion he is of; tells him that any spirit of joking that he (Lamb) may have on that subject, he imbibed from Southey himself; telling him that he had all his life made a jest of the devil; saying "You have made wonderfully free with, and been mightily pleasant upon, the popular idea and attributes of him. A noble lord, your brother visionary, has scarcely taken greater liberties with the material keys and mere Catholic notion of St. Peter. You have flattered him in prose; you have chanted him in goodly odes; you h ave been his jester, volunteer laureate, and self-elected court poet of Beelzebub." What, after this, will become of the satanic school? Southey has spoken ill of L.'s friends: he calls them over, mentioning their various good qualities briefly, and then more fully enters upon your character and his intimacy with Hazlitt.... I copy all this, dear Hunt, because I am sure it will give you pleasure to find how your friends in England remember you.