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Lamb; and, like the only Mrs. Pecksniff, she had a small property.' It was situate at Winterslow, certain miles from Salisbury, and Hazlitt, who loved the neighbourhood, and clung to it till the end, has so far illustrated the name that, if there could ever be a Hazlitt Cult, the place would instantly become a shrine. It was a cottage, within easy walking distance of Wilton and Stonehenge ; and in 1812 the Hazlitts, who were made one in 1808, departed it-it and the well-beloved woods of Norman Court—for 19 York Street, Westminster. Hence it was that he issued to deliver his first course of lectures; ? and here it was that he entertained those friends he had, made himself a reputation by writing in papers and magazines, drank hard, and cured himself of drinking, and long ere the end came found his wife insufferable. In
beginning he worked in the Reporters' Gallery, where he made notes (in long hand) for The Morning Chronicle, and learned to take more liquor than was good for him. In this same journal he printed some of his best political work, and broke ground as a critic of acting; and he left it only because he could not help quarrelling with its proprietors.
Another stand-by of his was The Champion, to his work in which he owed a not unprofitable connexion with The Edinburgh; yet another, The Examiner, to which, with much dramatic criticism, he contributed, at Leigh Hunt's suggestion, the set of essays reprinted as The Round Table, and in which he may therefore be said to have discovered his avocation, and given the measure of his best quality.
The house had been the abode of Milton ; for certain months it had harboured the eminent James Mill; it belonged to the celebrated Jeremy Bentham : so that in the matter of associations Hazlitt, a thorough-paced dissenter, was as well off as he could hope to be.
? Ten in number : on "The Rise and Progress of Modern Philosophy, as illustrated in the works of Hobbes, Locke and his followers, Hartley, Helvétius, and others. The lectures, Mr. Stephen says, were in part a reproduction of the Principles of Human Action.
3 Haydon says that Waterloo made him drunk for weeks. Then he pulled himself together, and for the rest of his life drank nothing but strong tea. He had, however, no sort of sympathy with those who held the 'social glass' to be Man's safest introduction to the Pit. He only said that liquor did not agree with him, and looked on cheerfully while his friends—Lamb was as close as any—drank as they pleased.
Then, in 1817, he published his Characters of Shakespeare, which he dedicated to Charles Lamb; in 1818 he reprinted a series of lectures (at the Surrey Institute) on the English poets ;in 1819-20 he delivered from the same platform two courses more—on the Comic Writers and the Age of Elizabeth. He wrote for The Liberal, The Yellow Dwarf, The London Magazine—(to which he may very well have introduced the unknown Elia)—Colburn's New Monthly; he returned to the Chronicle in 1824; in 1825 he published The Spirit of the Age, in 1826 The Plain Speaker, the Boswell Redivivus in 1827; and in this last year he set to work, at Winterslow, on a life of Napoleon. That was the beginning of the end. He had no turn for history, nor none for research ; his methods were personal, his results singular and brief; he was as it were an accidental writer, whose true material was in himself. His health broke, and worsened ; his publishers went bankrupt; he lost the best part of the £500 which he had hoped to earn by his work; and though, consulting Done but anti-English authorities, he lived to complete a book containing much strong thinking and not a few striking passages, it was a thing foredoomed to failure: a matter in which the nation, still hating its tremendous enemy, and still rejoicing in the man and the battle which had brought him to the ground, would not, and could not take an interest. Two volumes were published in 1828 (Sir Walter's Napoleon appeared in 1827), and two more in 1830; but the work of writing them killed the writer. His digestion, always feeble, was
1 Both the Characters and the English Poets were reviewed by Gifford in the Quarterly. The style of these “reviews' is abject ; the inspiration venal; the matter the very dirt of the mind. Gifford hated Hazlitt for his politics, and set out to wither Hazlitt's repute as a man of letters. For the tremendous reprisal with which he was visited, the reader is referred to the Letter to William Gifford, Esq., in the first volume of the present Edition. If he find it over-savage : probably, being of to.day, he will : let him turn to his Quarterly, and consider, if he have the stomach, Gifford and the matter of offence.
· He lived to rejoice in the Revolution of July; but of the great movement in the arts—of Henri Trois et sa Cour and Hernani, of Delacroix and Barye, of Géricault and Bonington and de Vigny, and the rest of its heroes he seems to have known nothing. That was his way. The new did not exist for him. A dissenter by birth and conviction, he yet cared only for the past, and the elder *glories of our blood and state 'were to him, not shadows but, the sole substantial things he could keep room for in the kingdom of his mind.
ruined; and in the September of 1830 he died. He was largely, I should say, a sacrifice to tea, which he drank, in vast quantities, of extraordinary strength. However this be, his ending was (as he'd have loved to put it) as a Chrissom child's.'1
Thus much, thus all-too little, of his course in print. For his life, despite his many bursts of confidence, the admissions of his grandson, and the discoveries of such friends as Patmore, the half of it, I think, has to be told to us. This was not his fault, for he was in no sense secretive: he would no more lie about himself than he would lie about Southey or Gifford. His trick of drinking was, while it lasted, public; he proclaimed with all his lungs his frank and full approval of the fundamentals of the Revolution and his preference of Bonaparte before all the Kings in Europe ; he despised Shelley the politician, and rejected Shelley the poet, and he cherished and made the most he could of his resentment against Coleridge and Wordsworth, though his disdain for concealment perilled his friendship with Lamb, and well nigh cost him the far more facile regard of Leigh Hunt; while, as for Byron, he so bitterly resented the noble Lord's' pre-eminency that he made no difference, strongly as he contemned the Laureate, between the Laureate's Vision of Judgment, a piece of English verse immortal by the sheer force of its absurdity, and that other Vision of Judgment, which is one of the great things in English poetry. 'Twas much the same in life. Poor Mrs. Hazlitt, though she was well-read, of no account as an housekeeper, .fond of incongruous finery,' and capable of child-bearing withal, was, one may take for granted, not distinguished as a woman. Now, her husband, thinker as he approved himself, was very much of a male. Who runs may read of his early loves—Miss Railton and the rest ; 'tis history—at any rate 'tis history according to Wordsworth 2-that once, in Lakeland, he so dealt with the local beauty
1 'Tis a pleasure to remember that Lamb was with him to the end—was in his death-chamber in the very article of mortality. We have all read Carlyle on Lamb. The everlasting pity is that we shall never read Hazlitt on Carlyle. ? Him Shelley calls • a solemn and unsexual man.'
that he came very near to tasting of the local pond; when Patmore walked home with him to Westminster, after his first lecture in the Surrey Institute, the wayside nymphs flocked to his encounter, and (so Patmore says)- he knew them all; 1 he has himself recorded the confession that in the matter of mob-caps and black stockings and red elbows—in fact, on the score of your maid-servant—he could flourish a list as long, or thereabouts, as Leporello's. I know not whether he lied or spoke the truth ; ? but I can scarce believe that he lied. I should rather opine that on this point, as on others, Hazlitt, a gross and extravagant admirer (be it remembered) of J.-J. Rousseau, was, and is, entirely credible. We may take it that his veracity is beyond reproach. But 'tis another matter with his taste; and for that I can say no more than that I have listened to so many confidences :
From some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his Vintage rolling Time has pressed : that I hold it for merely unessential.
But the man who habitually hugs his housemaid is, whether he boast of it or not, no more superior to consequences than another : especially if he have, as Hazlitt had, an ardent imagination and a teeming waste of sentiment. And so Hazlitt found. About 1819 he ceased from consorting with his wife; and in 1820 he lodged with a tailor, one Walker, in Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane. Walker, a most respectable man, had daughters, and one of these, a girl well broken-in, it would seem, to the ways of gentlemen'-a girl with a dull eye, a 'sinuous gait,' and a habit of sitting on the knees of gentlemen'; a girl, in fine, who is only to be described by an old and sane and homely but unquotable designation—this poor half-harlot took on oar Don Juan of the area, and brought him to utter grief. He looked at passion, as embodied in Sarah Walker, tatil it grew to be the world to him; he went about like a man drunken and dazed, telling the story of his slighted love to anybody
* Mach is years afterveis, according to a certain Nicolardot, the expertest of their kint were so the list of old Ste.-Beave.
: His pastaca describes En as physically incapable of any but a transient atelity to cyboty.
that would listen to it; now he raved and was rampant, now was he soul-stricken and heart-broken; he swore he'd marry
Walker whether she would or not, and to this end he persuaded his wife to follow him to Edinburgh, and there divorce him—pour cause, as the lady and her legal adviser had every reason to believe ; 2 and having achieved a divorce, which was no divorce in law, and been finally refused by the young woman in Southampton Buildings, he set to work assiduously to coin his madness into drachmas, and wrote, always with Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his eye, that Liber Amoris which the unknowing reader will find in our Second Volume. It is a book by no means bad—if you can at all away with it. Indeed, it is unique in English, and the hundred guineas Hazlitt got for it were uncommonly well earned. But to away with it at all—that is the difficulty; and, as it varies with the temperaments of them that read the book, I shall discourse no more of it, but content myself with noting that, in writing the Liber Amoris, Hazlitt wrote off Sarah Walker. had been in love with a housemaid, but he had been very much more in love with his love; and, having wearied all he knew with descriptions of his feelings, he wrote those feelings down, cleared his system, and became himself again. 'Twas Goethe's way, I believe—his and many another's; the world will scarce get disaccustomed to it while there are women and writing men. What distinguishes Hazlitt from a whole wilderness of self-chroniclers is the fulness of his revelation. It is extraordinary; but, even so, Rousseau had shown him the way. And perhaps the simple truth about the Liber is that it is the best Rousseau—the best and the nearest to the Confessionsdone since Rousseau died.
Sarah Hazlitt married no more ; but her husband did. In 1824
1 He confessed that one day he told it half a dozen times or so to persons he had never seen before : once, twice over to the same listener.
? It cost Hazlitt a crown, perhaps less ; and he arranged--apparently with Mrs. Hazlitt-to be taken in the act! After this the knowledge that Mr. and Mrs. Hazlitt took tea together, pendente lite, and that then and after his second espousals Hazlitt supplied this very reasonable woman with money, astonishes no more, but comes as a kind of anticlimax.
3 That damsel presently married in her station. She seems to have been a decent woman according to her lights, and to have lived up honestly to her ideals, such as they were,