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rendering ordinary matters the vehicle opportunity of estimating the literary of subtle thought, or subjecting them pretensions of Mr Hunt and Mr Hazto rhetorical definition. We see the sitt. Except through the hearsay of spectacle of a man of great powers very second-hand persons, he can taking a perverse pleasure in winding know nothing of the habits or acquireto his purposes the docility of com- ments of these gentlemen. And, if mon apprehensions. He is a giant the freedom of their political sentistooping to lift a feather. As to his ments, and their truly English strain ingenuity, we may apply to it lan- of independence, had not made eneguage which we dare say will be re mies to them in many quarters, cognized. “ Hazlitt, Sir! is one of a whence enmity could not have proset of men who account for every ceeded from sound judgment, or right thing systematically ; for instance, it principle, we should have been surhas been a fashion to wear scarlet prised, as well as offended, at such an breeches; these men would tell you, instance of want of common discre. that, according to causes and effects, tion, joined with an utter disregard no other wear could at that time have of common candour, or critical fairbeen chosen.” It is to the existence ness. The impudent harshness, and of such writers as these, however, rude vulgarity, of the whole paper, of joined with the indescribable action of which this averment was a part, are, political events in moulding human in fact, so excessive, so obtrusive, and thought, that we are to look for the transparent, that they of themselves main causes which, in this country, sufficiently indicate a source to which have given a more ambitious and de- no information of the personal habits cided turn to our critical systein, and of Mr Leigh Hunt or Mr Hazlitt a more vigorous and elevated tone to could possibly have reached, except at our periodical literature, than that third or fourth hand. The Messrs which justified the admiration of our Hunts were educated at Christ's Hos. immediate predecessors for the wit pital, and were early initiated into and philosophy of the golden age of more of the best of ancient literature Queen Anne.
than is at all common among the rawThe writers in the Round Table headed young men who fret their litappear to have read the Italian poets, tle hour in the lowest ranks of those especially Dante, * with such care, as professions to which, in this provincial to be able to refer to them very effec- town, the epithet learned is applied tually, on occasions for which the beat- with a most ludicrous exclusiveness en range of hackneyed quotation could and impropriety. * not possibly lend cqual power to their
In the tirade to which we at present illustrations, or force to the meaning they wish to convey. Indeed, the Examiner has been remarkable for its nu
Far be it from us to attach any importmerous andapt quotations from Italian ance to those school acquirements which literature. It was with some indig
one fool may have, and another want, just nation, therefore, that we saw it stat- strength in these studies, must stand or fall
as the chance is. But they who put their ed in a contemporary work, that Mr by their proficiency in them. The Blue Hunt's knowledge in that department Coat School, and other foundations for ." is confined to a few of the most po- learning in England, comparing them pular of Petrarch's sonnets, and an with the schools of Edinburgh and Glasimperfect acquaintance with Ariosto, gow, will be found to produce, number for through the inedium of Mr Hoole. number, at least as many well-grounded This could only be the statement of scholars,—more men of open and indepenone who has had no personal or direct dent character,--and certainly not fewer of
sound and serviceable attainments. Now,
it would be strange if any man, not a bet. There is a set of authors more admir- ter scholar than those, (allowing him, for ed than read.
Dante is almost the chief of the sake of argument, to be as good,) should these. We believe it was Voltaire who say that they knew Homer only through a said wittily and truly, that Dante owed his translation, when they quoted him in Greek! fume to his obscurityj.' It shews a laudable It is equally strange, and not a whit more curiosity in a modern critic, when he reads honest, for a man who knows absolutely nosuch an author, and extends his fame by thing of the private studies of these writers, a relish of him to his own to say, that they cannot read Italian, because
they quote Dante in his native tongue !!
allude, Mr Hunt is, with equal ele- emerge during a life of drawling ingance and propriety, reproached for significance and submission, except having “extremely vulgar, modes of through such patronage as the political thinking, and manners in all respects part of the profession can afford to Of the author of this tirade we know him! nothing. But, we trust, with a se After having entered, at such riousness proportioned to our respect length, into what we conceive to be for them, that he may turn out to be the general characteristics of Mr Haza person neither of genius nor of libe- litt's writings, it would be absurd to ral political leanings. For what man give any minute criticism on books of whiggish attachments would not which are in every one's hands. We be ashamed of such a drivelling as
cannot, however, resist quoting a passertion as this : “All the great poets sage from the review of Mr Wordsof our country have been men of some worth’s Excursion. That paper alone rank in society, and there is no vul- has had the merit of treating the great garity in any of their writings; but worth of that extraordinary person Mr Hunt cannot utter a dedication, with fairness and philosophy, without or even a note, without betraying the sanctioning any of his weaknesses, or shibboleth of low birth and low ha- overlooking his faults. The following bits ?" It is hard to believe that any part is remarkable for a chaste and man of sound taste, of real honesty, powerful eloquence : or of unsophisticated principles of any
“ Yet the pity of my heart sort, could have spoken of another as Prevents me not from owning that the law, this writer has done of Mr Hunt, By which mankind now suffers, is most just, apparently from the mere vulgar love For by superior energies ; more strict of scandal, - or the still more vulgar, Affiance in each other; faith more firm slavish, and contemptible motive of In their unhallowed principles; the bad administering to that base appetite in Have fairly earned a victory o'er the weak, others. His definition, or implied The vacillating, inconsistent good.” notion of vulgarity, is sufficiently
“ In the application of these memorable striking. A vulgar man, he thinks, lines we should, perhaps, differ a little from is one who has wrought his way in Mr Wordsworth ; nor can we indulge with society independently, without truck- him in the fond conclusion afterwards hintling or chicane ; and who comes, at ed at, that one day our triumph, the trilength, by the mere force of superior umph of humanity and liberty, may be genius, taste, talent, and application, complete. For this purpose we think seto have an influence on public opinion. veral things necessary which are impossible. This influence, be it remembered, he
It is a consummation which cannot happen aises consistently, from first to last,
till the nature of things is changed, till the for the service of public liberty. Of many become as united as the one, till now
mantic generosity shall be as common as course, he is not a member of a learned profession. By the mental gross selfishness, till reason shall have aclaw of association, things suggest till the love of power and of change shall
quired the obstinate blindness of prejudice, their contraries. Let us see what is
no longer goad man on to restless action, a polished
man by this rule of reverses. till passion and will, hope and fear, love He must be one that cannot help be- and hatred, and the objects proper to exing born of parents pretty well to do cite them, that is, alternate good and evil, in the world. One who has been shall no longer sway the bosoms and busi breeched, in his boyhood, into a little nesses of men. All things move, not in bad prosody, and some imperfect progress, but in a ceaseless round; our verbal criticism. One who, by dint strength lies in our weakness ; our virtues of favour and acquaintanceship, gets limited as our being ; nor can we lift man
are built on our vices; our faculties are as bolstered up to a standing in the low- above his nature more than above the earth er ranks of a learned profession, (al- he treads. But, though we cannot weave ready overstocked with helpless as
over again the airy, unsubstantial dream, pirants,) from which he may never which reason and experience have dispelled,
“ What though the radiance, which was With unprovoked, unfounded, shocking, once so bright, and abominable calumnies on any man's
Be now for ever taken from our sight, private character, we have nothing to do. Though nothing can bring back the hour The discussion of them forms an instant Of glory in the grass, of splendour in the and imperious duty of the courts of law. flower:"
yet we will never cease nor be prevented so, if he can speak of that event from returning on the wings of imagina- without any perverse inclination to tion to that bright dream of our youth; cut into the angry feelings about it that glad dawn of the day-star of liberty; which yet remain on either side. that spring-time of the world, in which the
As to Mr Hazlitt's Characters of hopes and expectations of the human race seemed opening in the same gay career with Shakespeare, they appear to us the
most animated, intelligent, and preour own ; when France called her children to partake her equal blessings beneath her possessed criticism on the great heir laughing skies ; when the stranger was met
of fame.” Their admiration is only in all her villages with dance and festive too systematic. There is a constant songs, in celebration of a new and golden effort to point out beauties, along with era ; and when to the retired and contem a profound reason for them, and to plative student the prospects of human discern fitnesses at which Shakehappiness and glory were seen ascending, speare himself would be astonished, like the steps of Jacob's ladder, in bright were any of the happy spirits in Elyand never-ending succession. The dawn
sium to mention the progressive speof that day was suddenly overcast ; that culations about him with which earth season of hope is past ; it is fled with the other dreams of our youth, which we can
teems. The following passage from not recal, but has left behind it traces which these criticisms, which is full of truth are not to be effaced by birth-day and and error, is a proper specimen of how thanksgiving odes, or the chaunting of deeply Mr Hazlitt goes into the most Te Deums in all the churches of Christen- ticklish speculations, even when he dom. To those hopes eternal regrets are is discussing the scenery of a play, or due ; to those who maliciously and wilful. the merits of a scenic hero. ly blasted them, in the fear that they might be accomplished, we feel no less what we
" The insolence of power is stronger owe-hatred and scorn as lasting !"
than the plea of necessity. The tame sub
mission to usurped authority, or even the As a primary event, influencing by natural resistance to it, has nothing to exits peculiar features and connections cite or flatter the imagination : it is the asstrongly and immediately the tone and sumption of a right to insult or oppress progress of society in the European others that carries an air of superiority with Continent, and, niore remotely, some
it. Wrong, dressed out in pride, pomp, of the less indifferent feelings and and circumstance, has more attraction than speculations of the
whole range of ci- abstract right. Coriolanus complains of vilized man, the French Revolution, stant he cannot gratify his pride and obsti
the fickleness of the people ; yet, the inthat word of still mighty import bas nacy at their expence, he turns his arms been used, we imagine, with reference against his country. If his country was ' to varying phenomena in the moral, not worth defending, why build his pride and very different classes of events in on its defence ? He is a conqueror and a the political, world, both by its friends hero ; he conquers other countries, and and enemies, with marvellously little makes this a plea for enslaving his own; strictness of application or clearness and, when he is prevented from doing so, of idea. By one set of thinkers it has he leagues with its enemies to destroy his been execrated as the direful parent of country. He rates the people as if he all, and even more than all, the evils their infirmity. He scoffs at one of their
were a god to punish, and not a man of attributed by others to the selfishness tribunes for maintaining their rights and and unteachableness of kings and franchises. • Mark you his absolute shall;" courts. By a recluse, and scanty, and not marking his own absolute will to take scattered race of speculative men, it every thing from them,-his impatience of has been more simply regarded as a the slightest opposition to his own pretengrand revenge on the criines of suc sions being in proportion to their arrocessful tyranny, and the insults of de gance and absurdity. If the great and ceiving priestcraft, wherever commit- powerful had the beneficence and wisdom ted. We do not wish to enter into of gods, then all this would have been this painful topic, or to express, even
well : if, with a greater knowledge of what by inference, any opinion of our own
is good for the people, they had as great a upon it; but, in these days of politi- selves, if they were seated above the world,
care for their interest as they have themcal mystification and shameless tergi- sympathizing with the welfare, but not Versation, there is something kindly feeling the passions of men, recciving neiin the air of that man who can trust ther good nor hurt from them, but bestow. himself with the buoyancy and warmth ing their benefits as free gifts on them, of his youthful impressions ;-more they might then rule over them like an
other Providence. But this is not the light to read in books, they will put in case. Coriolanus is unwilling that the se- practice in reality." nate should shew their cares' for the people, lest their cares' should be con
This is extremely animated and erstrued into fears,' to the subversion of roneous, and, in point of ingenuity, all due authority ; and he is no sooner dis- is far above the pitch of dramatic criappointed in his schemes to deprive the ticism. What follows is less painful people, not only of the cares of the state, in its subject, as well as more just and but of all power to redress themselves, than lively. Volumnia is made madly to exclaim,
Shakespeare's comedy is, in essence, Now the red pestilence strike all trades the same with that of Cervantes, and also in Rome,
very frequently of Moliere, though he was And occupations perish.'
more systematic in his extravagance than
Shakespeare. Shakespeare's comedy is of This is but natural : it is but natural for a a pastoral and poetical cast. Folly is inmother to have more regard for her son digenous to the soil, and shoots out with a than for a whole city ; but then the city native, happy, unchecked luxuriance. Abe should be left to take some care of itself. surdity has every encouragement afforded The care of the state cannot, we here see, it, and nonsense has room to flourish in. be safely entrusted to maternal affection, Nothing is stunted by the churlish icy or to the domestic charities of high life. hand of indifference or severity. The poet The great have private feelings of their runs riot in a conceit, and idolizes a quibown, to which the interests of humanity ble. His whole object is to turn the mean. and justice must courtesy.
Their inte est or rudest objects to a pleasurable acrests are so far from being the same as count. The relish which he has of a pun, those of the community, that they are in or of the quaint humour of a low characdirect, if necessary, opposition to them ; ter, does not interfere with the delight with their power is at the expence of our weak. which he describes a beautiful image, or the ness; their riches of our poverty; their most refined love. The clown's forced pride of our degradation ; their splendour jests do not spoil the sweetness of the cha. of our wretchedness; their tyranny of our racter of Viola ; the same house is big servitude. If they had the superior know. enough to hold Malvolio, the Countess, ledge ascribed to them, (which they have Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew Ague. not,) it would only render them so much Cheek. For instance, nothing can fall more formidable ; and from gods would much lower than this last character in inconvert them into devils. The whole dra tellect or morals : yet how are his weakmatic moral of CORIOLANUS is, that those nesses nursed and dandled by Sir Toby inwho have little shall have less, and that
to something • high fantastical,' when, on those who have much shall take all that Sir Andrew's commendation of himself for others have left. The people are poor, dancing and fencing, Sir Toby answers, therefore they ought to be starved. They • Wherefore are these things hid? Where. are slaves, therefore they ought to be beats fore have these gifts a curtain before them?" en. They work hard, therefore they ought &c. How Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and the to be treated like beasts of burthen. They Clown, afterwards chirp over their cups ! are ignorant, therefore they ought not to be How they - rouse the night out in a catch, allowed to feel that they want food, or able to draw three souls out of one weavclothing, or rest, that they are enslaved, er!' What can be better than Sir Toby's oppressed, and miserable. This is the lo
unanswerable answer to Malvolio, Dost gic of the imagination and the passions; thou think, because thou art virtuous, which seeks to aggrandize what excites ad- there shall be no more cakes and ale ?' In miration, and to heap contempt on misery; a word, the best turn is given to every to raise power into tyranny, and to make thing, instead of the worst. There is a tyranny absolute; to thrust down that constant infusion of the romantic and enwhich is low still lower, and to make thusiastic, in proportion as the characters wretches desperate : to exalt magistrates are natural and sincere ; whereas, in the into kings, kings into gods; to degrade more artificial style of comedy, every thing subjects to the rank of slaves, and slaves to gives way to ridicule and indifference, there the condition of brutes. The history of being nothing left but affectation on one mankind is a romance, a mask, a tragedy, side, and incredulity on the other. Much constructed upon the principles of poetical as we like Shakespeare's comedies, we can. justice; it is a noble or royal hunt, in not agree with Dr Johnson, that they are which what is sport to the few is death to better than his tragedies ; nor do we like the many, and in which the spectators hal- them half so well. If his inclination to loo and encourage the strong to set upon comedy sometimes led him to trifle with the weak, and cry havock in the chace, the seriousness of tragedy, the poetical and though they do not share in the spoil. We impassioned passages are the best parts of may depend upon it, that what men de his comedies.
Mr Hazlitt, in descanting on Shake- of Paris, or of Parisian manners, is so speare's beauties, and on the variety of little to be discovered, in the coarse, his genius, which grasps, as it were vulgar, and disgusting daubings of by anticipation, so many excrescent the author, that we have no hesitation lights of thought, and gratuitous cor- in saying, that he has never been in ruscations of fancy, has omitted to Paris himself. We are persuaded note, with its proper tone, one strik, that he has only heard some gossiping passage. In the first scene, second ing fool give a distorted description of act, of “ As You Like It,” we think some few objects in that city which Shakespeare has completely anticipat- attract the attention of strangers, ed the Lake Poets. "He « translates has thereupon procured a Guide de the stubbornness of fortune into so Paris, for farther information,-and quiet and so sweet a style," as to from these materials has produced the “ Find tongues in trees, books in the three volumes now given to the pubrunning brooks, sermons in stones, lic. In short, there is neither reality and good in every thing." All that nor caricature ;-neither humour, wit, precedes, about the seclusion and sim- nor fancy, to be found in the book ; plicity of their style of life in the Fo- and, as for taste or fine writing, an rest of Arden ;-all that follows of the Irish labourer, dictating an epistle “poor sequestered stag that from the which he cannot write, would exhibit hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt;"- specimens of both superior to those diswhere Jacques is left “ weeping and played by the author in this wretched commenting upon the sobbing deer,” performance. and the Duke is made to say, “ I love We have to apologize, therefore, to cope him in those sullen fits, for for noticing the work at all; but we then he is full of matter." All these do so to have an opportunity of exparts are in a style which Mr Words- pressing our decided disapprobation worth has not surpassed, either for of all attempts to 'libel the character natural plainness, or force of effect. and manners of foreign nations, to Nothing can, indeed, be more effec- gratify the senseless conceit of the igtive, except in such cases as where, norant and malignant part of our own. by an instantaneous hit, Shakespeare We were much distressed, when in reaches the very climax of good fel- France, to meet with amiable and inlowship. It is Sir John Falstaff who telligent individuals of that nation filsays, " Aye, Master Shallow, we have led with all sorts of prejudices against heard the chimes at midnight !!” this country, many of them so foolish
as to excite our astonishment at their being for a moment entertained. But
these prejudices owed their origin Six Weeks in Paris, or a Cure for the
to misrepresentations, lies, and slanGallomania ; said to be extracted ders, industriously circulated in France from the Portfolio of a Nobleman. by wits of the same paltry description 3 volumes 8vo. London, J. John
as are found too easily here. We ston.
really did not know whether to smile From the title of this book, we sus or to frown at being gravely told, that, pected that it would be a libel against in Britain, the gentlemen regularly the French ; and, as we have an ab- get drunk after the ladies have retired horrence of all libels, whether direct to the drawing-room ;—that genteel ed against nations or individuals, we people in England box each other on were predisposed to severity against the slightest quarrel ;-that we eat the author. On reading it, however, beaf-steaks, half raw and half broiled, all our wrath subsided, and our feel- to breakfast, dinner, and supper; ings sunk into those of the most so- that our whole soul is wrapt up, night vereign contempt. The desire to ca- and day, in the desire of gain ;-that lumniate is, no doubt, strongly shown we are strangers to refined amusement in
every page ; but, fortunately, the and social pleasure ;-that we shoot, malignity of the author is diluted with drown, and hang ourselves on the ocsuch a profuse mixture of vulgarity casion of every disappointment; with and stupidity, that he, and, per- an endless list of similar absurdities. haps, his unfortunate publisher, are Such ridiculous prejudices may apthe only persons in danger of suffering pear deserving of contempt alone ; from the effusion. The resemblance and, if no evil consequences arosc