The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt: With Reminiscences of Friends and Contemporaries - Vol. 1

By Leigh Hunt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V.
YOUTH.

Juvenile verses.--Visits to Cambridge and Oxford.--Danger of drowning.--Bobart, the Oxford coachman.--Spirit of University training. --Dr. Raine, of the Charter-House.--A juvenile beard.--America and Dr. Franklin.-- Maurice, author of Indian Antiquities.--Welsh bards.--A religions boy.--Doctrine of self-preservation.--A walk from Ramsgate to Brighton.--Character of a liver at inns.--A devout landlord.--Inhospitality to the benighted.--Answers of rustics to wayfarers.--Pedestrian exploits.--Dangers of delay.--The club of elders.

FOR some time after I left school, I did nothing but visit my schoolfellows, haunt the book-stalls, and write verses. My father collected the verses; and published them with a large list of subscribers, numbers of whom belonged to his old congregations. I was as proud perhaps of the book at that time, as I am ashamed of it now. The French Revolution, though the worst portion of it was over, had not yet shaken up and re-invigorated the sources of thought all over Europe. At least I was not old enough, perhaps was not able, to get out of the trammels of the regular imitative poetry, or versification rather, which was taught in the schools. My book was a heap of imitations, all but absolutely worthless. But absurd as it was, it did me a serious mischief; for it made me suppose that I had attained an end, instead of not having reached even a commencement; and thus caused me to waste in imitation a good many years which I ought to have devoted to the study of the poetical art, and of nature. Coleridge has praised Boyer for teaching us to laugh at "muses," and "Castalian streams;" but he ought rather to have lamented that he did not teach us how to love them wisely, as he might have done had he really known any thing about poetry, or loved Spenser and the old poets, as he thought he admired the new. Even Coleridge's juvenile poems were none the better for Boyer's training. As to

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