Regency Sex Symbols: James Henry Leigh Hunt

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(1784-1859) Essayist, poet, editor and publisher James and his brother John published a liberal weekly The Examiner beginning in 1808 that advocated for the abolition of slavery, Catholic emancipation, reform of criminal law and Parliament.  Notorious for their satires of Prinny, it eventually landed the brothers in prison in 1813, where from his jail cell he continued to write the paper.

Hunt rubbed elbows with many of the literary giants of the dayy, even introducing friends Percy and Mary Shelley to John Keats, and was part of the group conservative Blackwood’s Magazine labelled “the Cockney School of Poetry.”

Leigh Hunt was named for the Duke of Chandos, and published his first book of poems at the age of 17.

Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard

We, the Fairies, blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us.

Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples.

When to bed the world are bobbing,
Then’s the time for orchard-robbing;
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling,
Were it not for stealing, stealing.

James Henry Leigh Hunt

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