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Leigh Hunt And Barry Cornwall
by [?]

If a storm should come and awake the deep,
What matter? I shall ride and sleep.

This is the course of action usually pursued by sailors during a gale. The first or second mate goes around and tucks them up comfortably, each in his hammock, and serves them out an extra ration of grog after the storm is over.

Barry Cornwall must have had an exceptionally winning personality, for he drew to him the friendship of men as differently constituted as Thackeray, Carlyle, Browning, and Forster. He was liked by the best of his time, from Charles Lamb down to Algernon Swinburne, who caught a glimpse of the aged poet in his vanishing. The personal magnetism of an author does not extend far beyond the orbit of his contemporaries. It is of the lyrist and not of the man I am speaking here. One could wish he had written more prose like his admirable “Recollections of Elia.”

Barry Cornwall seldom sounds a natural note, but when he does it is extremely sweet. That little ballad in the minor key beginning,

Touch us gently, Time!
Let us glide adown thy stream,

was written in one of his rare moments. Leigh Hunt, though not without questionable mannerisms, was rich in the inspiration that came but infrequently to his friend. Hunt’s verse is full of natural felicities. He also was a bookman, but, unlike Barry Cornwall, he generally knew how to mint his gathered gold, and to stamp the coinage with his own head. In “Hero and Leander” there is one line which, at my valuing, is worth any twenty stanzas that Barry Cornwall has written:

So might they now have lived, and so have died;
The story’s heart, to me, still beats against its side.

Hunt’s fortunate verse about the kiss Jane Carlyle gave him lingers on everybody’s lip. That and the rhyme of “Abou Ben Adhem and the Angel” are spice enough to embalm a man’s memory. After all, it takes only a handful.