it; and such has been the impressive influence of Hood's writings upon us, that our thoughts, whether we will or not, are more intent on their serious than on their comic import.
In all the writings of Hood that are not absolutely serious the grotesque is a present and pervading element. Often it shows itself, as if from an irresistible instinct of fantastic extravagance, in the wild and reckless sport of oddity. Combinations, mental, verbal, and pictorial, to ordinary mortals the strangest and the most remote, were to Hood innate and spontaneous. They came not from the outward,--they were born of the inward. They were purely subjective, the sportive pranks of Hood's own ME, when that ME was in its queerest moods. How naturally the impossible or the absurd took the semblance of consistency in the mental associations of Hood, we observe even in his private correspondence. "Jane," (Mrs. Hood,) he writes, "is now drinking porter,--at which I look half savage.....I must even _sip_, when I long to