Tuesday, September 30, 2008

these green fields

Leigh Hunt to Percy B. and Mary W. Shelley.

8, York Buildings, New Road,
August, 1819.

My Dear Friends,

henever I write to you, I seem to be transported to your presence. I dart out of the window like a bird, dash into a south-western current of air, skim over the cool waters, hurry over the basking lands, rise like a lark over the mountains, fling like a swallow into the vallies, skim again, pant for breath, there's Leghorn eccomi! how d'ye do?

I wish you would encourage my epistolatory interviews by writing to me every Monday morning; I would write on the same day myself say at nine o'clock; and then we should have the additional pleasure of knowing that we were occupied on the very same thoughts, and almost chatting together. I will begin the system, at any rate; and if you do not help me to go on with it, why, I will heap Christian coals of fire on your heads by endeavouring to go on without you. There is the same continued sunshine this season as last year. Every Saturday, when I go to office, I seem to walk through vallies of burning bricks, the streets and pavement are so intensely hot; but, then, there is a perpetual fanning of fresh air in the fields, and you may imagine I am oftener there. Sometimes I ramble about in them, sometimes take my meals, sometimes lie down and read. The other day I had a delicious sleep in a haycock. These green fields and blue skies throw me into a kind of placid intoxication. Are there many moments more delicious than the one in which you feel yourself going to slumber, with the sense of green about you, of an air in your face, and of the great sky arching over your head? One feels, at such times, all the grandeur of planetary consciousness without the pain of it. You know what I mean. There is a sort of kind and beautiful sensuality in it which softens the cuts and oppressiveness of intellectual perception. Certainly, a country so green as England cannot well be equalled by any other at such a season; and did not the less pleasant causes of that green return, I should try my utmost to induce you to come back again; for, at this identical moment, I do not think you would be more comfortable anywhere than in such a place, with a book or two, a basket of fruit, and (O vain, flattered friend!) Leigh Hunt. Shelley does indeed flatter me, when he writes to me as the "best friend" he has left behind. I heartily wish he had any better, for I am sure that they would go through a dozen fires for him; and, as for that matter, so would I. In no race of friendship would I be the last, if my heart broke for it at the goal. But enough of this at present. Pray do not let Shelley be uneasy about my pecuniary affairs. It was he that enabled me to throw off the weight of them at first, and I should think it an ill return if I did not at least exert all the faculties which he set free. . . . . I guess, by Shelley's questions about the Euganean Hills, that he has not seen my criticism yet in the Examiner, for surely I spoke there of a poem which I admire beyond measure, for thought, imagination, music, everything. He has a great admirer here from the Lakes, who has come to London for his health--Lloyd, one of the earliest Lake poets. More of him in my next. God thrice bless you, Shelley mio, Marina mia. Ever most affectionately yours,
Leigh Hunt.

-from The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt / edited by his eldest son (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1862) volume 1, pp. 135-36.

No comments: