1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Leigh Hunt

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 370.



The son of a West Indian who settled in England and became a clergyman, James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) was born at Southgate, and educated at Christ's Hospital, London. In connection with his brother he established the Examiner newspaper in 1808, and became the literary associate of Coleridge, Lamb, Campbell, Hood, Byron, Shelley, and other men of note. Having called the Prince Regent "an Adonis of fifty," he and his brother were condemned to two years' imprisonment, with a fine of 500 each. On Hunt's release, Keats addressed to him one of his finest sonnets. Improvident and somewhat lax in money matters, and often in want of "a loan," Hunt's life was spent in struggling with influences contrary to his nature and temperament. In 1822 he went to Italy to reside with Lord Byron; and in 1828 he published Lord Byron, and some of his Contemporaries, for which he was bitterly satirized by Moore, in some biting verses, as an ingrate. Certain affectations in his style caused Hunt to be credited with founding the "Cockney School of Poetry."