Linton- Life in the Collections
24) The Farthing Poet. A Biography of Richard Hengist Horne, 1802 - 1884. A lesser Literary Lion.
Although Anne Blainey’s views on Horne´s very heterogenous work are often blocked by canonical prejudice, this well researched biography on the neglected author is still worth reading as it provides a lot of informations about those radical circles of „angry young men“ that had also shaped Linton’s cultural and political views; it thus adds another valuable perspective to a deeper understanding of Victorian radical culture to Francis Barrymore Smith’s Linton biography that followed only five years later.
Horne’s adventurous life offers abundant material for a compelling biography. In his Memories Linton gives a short survey: “Horne, in 1835, had already published (...) works with more of the vigorous character and high poetic quality of the Elizabethan dramatists than anything that has been written since the Elizabethan days. (...) His work was very unequal. A Life of Napoleon was hardly more than a wordy enlargement of that by Hazlitt; and an imaginary Life of Van Amburg, the Lion-Tamer, and papers unsigned in the Monthly Repository under the editorship of W. J. Fox, and for a short time of Leigh Hunt, only showed his clever versatility. (...) A remarkable man also in other respects; small in stature, but with a grand head, beautiful in young days when he was a cadet at Woolwich, serving afterwards in the war for Mexican independence, for which service he, up to the time of his death, drew a small annuity; he was also one of the sub-commissioners appointed to inquire into the condition of women and children in our mines, horrible enough to demand inquiry; he lectured, in 1847, on Italy, when, with Mazzini’s aid, the People's International League strove to stir the public mind in favour of Italian freedom; had command later, when in Australia (where he went with William Howitt), of the escort of gold from the mines; and also sat in the Australian legislature. Coming back to England after several years, he continued to write, sometimes with his old vigour; his last work, Sithron the Star-stricken, worthy of his best days. He was a musician, played well on the guitar, and sang well. (...) I always think of Horne as one who ought to have been great, he came so near it in his work, in the greatness and nobility of his best writings.” (Memories)