1848 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Hood

Horace Smith, in "A Graybeard's Gossip about his Literary Acquaintance" New Monthly Magazine 82 (March 1848) 337-38.



To Thomas Hood, whose friendship I long enjoyed, and who is specially entitled to a niche in this Magazine, since he was its editor during several years, I must devote a brief notice, were it only to record my respect for his memory, and my regret that he should have been snatched away from us in the prime of life. His father, a bookseller in London, had intended him for an engraver, a drudgery which was soon abandoned for the more pleasant occupation of illustrating his own Whims and Oddities, Comic Annuals, and similar productions, the popularity of which seemed fully to justify the choice he had made, though his permanent reputation will, probably, be based on the much superior merit of his serious poems, most of which are truly admirable. Unprepossessing in appearance, sickly, shy, and deaf, poor Hood was not much calculated to win favour from those who prefer social brilliance to the sterling qualities of the head and heart; but none could know him intimately without respecting his virtues and admiring his talents. Not hearing all that was said in conversation, he pounced upon the sounds that did reach his ear, and endeavoured to turn them to comic account. Hence his incurable addiction to punning and word-catching, a colloquial propensity which extended itself to his writings.... This name is to be added to the long list of authors who, after living in strict economy, and sending forth works that the world has received with acclamation, have helped to enrich their publishers without benefiting themselves. Mr. Hood left his family in such destitute circumstances that a subscription was raised for their immediate relief. His widow has since been placed on the pension-list for a trifling annuity.