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Page 181

Nicholas A. Joukovsky

While there has never been anything like a complete bibliography of Leigh Hunt's journalism, scholars have often attempted to identify the periodicals to which he contributed with some regularity. However, it does not appear that any of Hunt's bibliographers has noticed a significant group of signed essays in the early numbers of the Guide, a cheap weekly newspaper that ran from 22 April 1837 to 1 April 1838. Only one complete run of this threepenny radical weekly is known to exist,[1] but marked file copies of the first nine numbers are preserved—along with various letters, documents, and accounts relating to the Guide—among the papers of its first editor, Henry Cole, in the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum.[2]

In his autobiographical Fifty Years of Public Work, Cole devotes only two sentences to his brief editorship and part ownership of the Guide, treating it mainly as a learning experience that he subsequently turned to good account in the campaign for uniform penny postage:

In the year 1837, during my contest with the Record Commission, Mr. Charles Buller, M.P., Sir Wm. Molesworth, Bart., M.P., Mr. Leader, M.P. for Westminster, and myself started a cheap threepenny newspaper called the “Guide,” of which I became the editor. Being one of the registered proprietors, and having to go through the dismal and frivolous formalities of obtaining sureties against libel, and for payment of the stamp duties, I became acquainted with all the intricate mysteries of the rights and privileges of newspapers, divided between the Treasury, the Stamp Office, and the Post Office.[3]

One would never guess from this account that the first nine numbers of the Guide, edited by Cole, contained writings by John Stuart Mill and Thomas Love Peacock as well as regular contributions by Leigh Hunt.

The idea for the Guide seems to have originated with Charles Buller and Henry Cole in the spring of 1837, when Cole was temporarily unemployed as a result of his controversy with the Record Commission. On 9 March, Cole noted in his journal that he “called at Buller's and remained with him for two hours discussing the feasibility of starting a 2nd newspaper.”[4] The refer-


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ence to “a 2nd newspaper” suggests that the project may have been related in some way to an earlier plan by Sir William Molesworth, John Arthur Roebuck, and John Temple Leader to start a radical Sunday paper in March 1836.[5] Having obtained Buller's approval of the scheme, Cole spent the next six weeks studying the business of newspaper publishing as well as soliciting potential investors and contributors. The total capital raised for the venture was £425: Buller provided £100, while Molesworth and Leader each provided £50, as did both Cole and his brother Frederick Lindsay Cole; Edwin Chadwick, John H. Elliott, Thomas Duffus Hardy, William Edward Hickson, and Henry Hooper, the paper's publisher, each put in £25.[6]

The new paper was announced in two prospectuses, the larger of which, printed in the same format as the first two numbers, describes the Guide as “A New Weekly Newspaper, giving the Latest Intelligence of Public Events, and full Information upon all subjects of General Interest.” The smaller prospectus, on a single octavo sheet, lists the following heads under which the contents are to be arranged: Political Guide, Parliamentary Guide, Foreign Guide, Colonial Guide, Gossip, Amusement Guide, Literary Guide, Scientific Guide, Judicial Guide, Commercial and Housekeeper's Guide, Miscellany, Sunday Guide, and Births, Marriages, and Deaths. Although such headings were used fairly regularly in the paper, the actual arrangement proved more flexible than this listing might suggest. The one political issue with which the prospectuses clearly identified the paper was the campaign to eliminate the newspaper tax. The price of each eight-page issue was to be 3d., of which 1d. was for the tax, 1d. for distribution, and 1d. for editorial and printing costs.[7] Financially this was a bold experiment at a time when most weekly papers cost 6d.

Despite the low price and the generally high quality of the writing, sales of the Guide appear to have disappointed expectations from the start, prompting early changes in both the format and the day of publication. Beginning with No. 3 the format was expanded from approximately 10 inches by 12½ inches with three columns per page to approximately 14 inches by 20 inches with five columns per page, and beginning with No. 5 the day of publication was changed from Saturday to Sunday. Although the circulation more or less doubled within the first eight weeks, it did not increase fast enough to make the paper a paying proposition before the initial capital was exhausted. On 15 June, Cole recorded in his journal that the Guide was sold for £100—a sum that was insufficient to clear the paper's debts.[8] No. 9, published on 18 June, was the last to appear under Cole's editorship. Two days later he noted in his journal that he was “introduced to the new pro-


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prietor of the Guide who very little predisposed me to cooperate in its management.” On 7 July 1837, Thomas Carlyle explained in a letter to his brother John in Italy: “The Guide was a Paper set up by Buller and some of that set, in which Hunt was engaged as a writer: it was spreading and succeeding but did not yet pay, and their money was done; so they sold it, and a quite new management has it.”[9] Although the Guide continued for another nine months under its new owners, the later issues are devoid of literary interest.

Cole's annotated copies of the Guide identify the authorship of many articles in the first nine numbers. As Cole's political mentor and the paper's principal investor, Charles Buller not only wielded considerable editorial influence but also wrote most of the important political articles as well as a weekly “Journal of a Liberal M.P.” Other contributors included Edwin Chadwick, Joseph Clayton, John H. Elliott, Joseph Henry Garnier, Horace Grant, Thomas Duffus Hardy, William Hardy, William Edward Hickson, Richard Hengist Horne, John Mitchell Kemble, and John Robertson. John Stuart Mill produced one short article for the Guide and allowed Cole to print an extract from a longer article prior to its appearance in the London and Westminster Review. [10] Cole himself wrote a good many articles and obtained Thomas Love Peacock's permission to publish the poems that were later privately printed as Paper Money Lyrics, and Other Poems (1837).[11] But whereas Peacock's poems appeared anonymously, Leigh Hunt's name was prominently attached to his eight weekly essays.

Leigh Hunt's engagement to write for the Guide was apparently arranged through the paper's printer, Charles Reynell, of 26 Little Pulteney Street, whose family was connected by marriage to Hunt's. On 17 April 1837, five days before the publication of the first number of the Guide, Cole wrote in his journal: “Met Leigh Hunt by appt at Reynells—He agreed to write weekly for £2.”[12] Hunt's essays were obviously an important feature of the new paper, but they were by no means his only contributions. Cole's manuscript note at the head of Hunt's first essay indicates that he was paid a total of £2.5.3 for No. 1—£2.2.0 for the essay plus 3.3 for a “Para[graph].” Although Cole did not mark Hunt's paragraph in No. 1, his notes in subsequent issues serve to identify seven of Hunt's unsigned contributions in Nos. 3-7, four of which relate to his friend Carlyle's current series of lectures on German literature.[13] There is also a short poem signed with Hunt's initials in No. 3.

Hunt's involvement with the new paper was not limited to his original writing. As a veteran editor, he apparently gave Cole or Reynell some advice that caused problems on 20 April, when Cole noted in his journal that he


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returned home late becuase he was “engaged in remedying the mistakes [altered from miscalculation] of Mr Hunt abt paper.” When the size of the Guide was increased with the third number, Cole may have turned to Hunt for further assistance. An unpublished letter from Hunt to Cole, dated from Reynell's on 7 June, reveals that he had been supplying extracts for the paper's “chat” and that he had been receiving the Morning Herald for that purpose:

My dear Sir,

I have written upon Hampton-Court; but am sorry to say that I am compelled to desist from my contributions to the chat,—the more so, as my necessity is abrupt, & the paper may not be quite prepared for it. I must beg you therefore to stir your scissors a little furiously, to supply the omission. I have done what I could, with the greatest pleasure; but my new editorship swallows up all the time at my command, especially just now; & I have found myself compelled these three last days, in spite of hopes to the contrary, to anticipate as much of the matter required for July's magazine as possible. I shall direct the newsman from this day, of course, to cease bringing me the Herald.[14]

Ever truly yours,
Leigh Hunt.

It appears, then, that Hunt's miscellaneous contributions to the Guide may have been substantial, but that they ceased with No. 7 because he needed to devote his energies to his “new editorship” of the Monthly Repository, which began with the issue for July 1837.[15] A receipt for £2.2.0 signed by Marianne Hunt and dated 6 June 1837 may have been for Hunt's last essay on “Hampton Court” in No. 8.[16]

The following list includes all of Hunt's clearly identifiable contributions to the Guide. The titles alone should be sufficient to indicate that the eight essays and the single poem are vintage Leigh Hunt.


  • 1. “Leigh Hunt's Sunday Lecture. No. I.—On the Right Cheerfulness of Sunday.” Guide, No. 1, Saturday, 22 April 1837, p. 8 [Under “Sunday Guide.”]

  • 2. “Leigh Hunt's Sunday Lecture. No. II.—Country Churches and Churchyards.” Guide, No. 2, Saturday, 29 April 1837, p. 16. [Under “Sunday Guide.”]

  • 3. “Remarks on Greenacre's Character, and on Public Executions.” Signed “Leigh Hunt.” Guide, No. 3, Saturday, 6 May 1837, pp. 22-23. [On the celebrated murderer James Greenacre, whose hanging in front of Newgate on 2 May was witnessed by a crowd of at least 20,000. The previous number contained an article on “The Greenacre Mania,” p. 15, and Hunt's “Remarks” were followed by a long article on “Greenacre the Murderer,” pp. 23-24.]

  • 4. “May and Electioneering. How to Save One's-Self from `Mereness.' By Leigh Hunt.” Guide, No. 4, Saturday, 13 May 1837, p. 30.


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  • 5. “Primrose Hill, Cemeteries, and Duelling. By Leigh Hunt.” Guide, No. 5, Sunday, 21 May 1837, pp. 39-40.

  • 6. “The Question of Duelling. By Leigh Hunt.” Guide, No. 6, Sunday, 28 May 1837, p. 47. [A note at the end indicates that the article is “(To be concluded next week.)”]

  • 7. “The Question of Duelling. By Leigh Hunt.” Guide, No. 7, Sunday, 4 June 1837, p. 55. [The byline is followed by the note “[Concluded from last week.]” and the heading “Mr. Hume, Lord Castlereagh, and Mr O'Connell.”]

  • 8. “Hampton Court. By Leigh Hunt.” Guide, No. 8, Sunday, 11 June 1837, p. 63.


  • 9. “Rhymes for the Fine Weather; or, A Gaiety and a Gravity for May.” Signed “L. H.” Guide, No. 3, Saturday, 6 May 1837, p. 20. [The poem begins “Spring's come at last.”]

    Unsigned Paragraphs

  • 10. “Mr. Carlyle's Lectures.” Guide, No. 3, Saturday, 6 May 1837, p. 21. [Ascribed to “Leigh Hunt” in Cole's marked copy of the “1st Edit”.]

  • 11. “German Literature.” Guide, No. 4, Saturday, 13 May 1837, p. 30. [On Carlyle's lectures. Not marked in Cole's copy, but evidently by the same writer as the other three notices of the lecture series, listed here as nos. 10, 12, and 16.]

  • 12. “German Literature.” Guide, No. 5, Sunday, 21 May 1837, p. 36. [On Carlyle's lectures. Ascribed to “L Hunt” in Cole's marked copy of the “2nd Edit”.]

  • 13. “The Taking of the Bastile. [From Mr Carlyle's French Revolution, just published.]” Guide, No. 6, Sunday, 28 May 1837, p. 44. [Introductory paragraph, followed by extracts from the book. Ascribed to “L Hunt & C.” in Cole's marked copy of the “1st Edition”. “C.”—who was probably Cole—may have assisted Hunt in making the extracts.]

  • 14. “Sir Robert Peel's Amazement at Yeomanry Patriotism.” Guide, No. 7, Sunday, 4 June 1837, p. 49. [Ascribed to “L Hunt” in Cole's marked copy of the “2nd Edit”.]

  • 15. “Universal Peace Society.” Guide, No. 7, Sunday, 4 June 1837, p. 50. [Ascribed to “L Hunt” in Cole's marked copy of the “2nd Edit”.]

  • 16. “German Literature.” Guide, No. 7, Sunday, 4 June 1837, p. 51. [On Carlyle's lectures. Ascribed to “L Hunt” in Cole's marked copy of the “2nd Edit”.]


In the British Library Newspaper Collection at Colindale.


The papers relating to the Guide are all bound up with Cole's copies of the paper in his collection of “Miscellanies,” vol. 2. For some numbers, Cole preserved as many as four separate editions, whose sequence is usually identified only by his handwritten notes.


Fifty Years of Public Work of Sir Henry Cole, K.C.B., Accounted for in His Deeds, Speeches, and Writings (London, 1884), 1:38-39.


MS journal for 1837 in the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, quoted with the permission of Elizabeth Bonython.


See The Earlier Letters of John Stuart Mill 1812- 1848, ed. Francis E. Mineka (Toronto, 1963), in Collected Works, 12:296 and note. It is not clear whether Cole was involved in this scheme, since his journals for 1835 and 1836 are missing.


These figures are from Cole's accounts in his “Miscellanies,” vol. 2.


Both prospectuses are preserved with Cole's copies of the Guide.


Cole later explained to John Stuart Mill, in an unpublished letter of 15 November 1843, “that he had discharged debts of the Guide of £150 more than need have been ascribed to him”—see The Earlier Letters of John Stuart Mill, in Collected Works, 13:614, note.


The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, ed. Charles Richard Sanders, Kenneth J. Fielding, et al. (Durham, N.C., 1970-), 9:243.


See Mill's Newspaper Writings, January 1835- June 1847, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto, 1986), in Collected Works, 24:793- 794.


See The Works of Thomas Love Peacock, ed. H. F. B. Brett-Smith and C. E. Jones (London, 1924-34), 7:442-457.


On 28 April, Cole again “saw Leigh Hunt” at Reynell's.


For Carlyle's awareness of Hunt's authorship of these notices, see his letters to his brother John of 30 May and 7 July 1837, Collected Letters, 9:216, 243.


MS in Cole's “Miscellanies,” vol. 2.


See Francis E. Mineka, The Dissidence of Dissent: The Monthly Repository, 1806-1838, Under the Editorship of Robert Aspland, W. J. Fox, R. H. Horne, & Leigh Hunt (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1944), pp. 382-393.


MS in Cole's “Miscellanies,” vol. 2.


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