Poet and essayist James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) was born on this day in Southgate, Middlesex, England, the youngest of nine and the son of a popular preacher.
Hunt said, "The person who can be only serious or only cheerful, is but half a man."
Hunt published the first of four editions of Juvenilia, in 1801, a collection of poetry written from age 12-16. He wrote his best essays and the verses Jenny Kissed Me and Abou Ben Adhem. As editor of the Examiner he celebrated the Romantics and became a leader amongst his peers as a drama critic, journalist, and liberal reformer.
With passion, he opened the door of literature to others and once said: "There are two worlds; the world that we can measure with line and rule, and the world that we feel with our hearts and imagination."
Called "matchless as a fire-side companion" by writer Charles Lamb, Hunt battled against "things as they are" and was jailed for two years for his controversial criticism of the Prince Regent of Wales.
"Colors are the smiles of nature," he said. "they are her laughs, as in flowers."
Following the publication of The Story of Rimini (1816), a time he called "the happiest periods of my life," Hunt became an inspiration and mentor to both John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. In later years he dedicated his life to his Autobiography (1850), a memoir that revealed insights about his life and times.
"It is books that teach us to refine our pleasures when young, and to recall them with satisfaction when we are old," he said.
Keep your loved ones as close as you can.