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in the subject, he was best of all-as upon of exciting envy of the success of others, Kemble and Mrs. Siddons. Mr. Kean satisfied heightened his sense of their merit, and his the first requisite only, but in the highest pos- pleasure and pride in accumulating honours on sible degree. His extraordinary vigour struck their names. Mr. Hunt says of these essays, Hazlitt, who attended the theatre for the “Morn- that they “throw a light on art as from a ing Chronicle," on the night of his debût, in painted window,"-a sentence which, in its the very first scene, and who, from that night, few words, characterizes them all, and leaves became the most devoted and efficient of his nothing to be wished or added. supporters. Yet if, on principle, Hazlitt pre In person, Mr. Hazlitt was of the middle size, ferred Kean to Kemble, and sometimes drew with a handsome and eager countenance, wom parallels between them disparaging to the idol by sickness and thought; and dark hair, which of his earlier affections, there is nothing half had curled stiffly over the temples, and was so fine in his eloquent eulogies on the first, as only of late years sprinkled with gray. His in his occasional recurrences to the last, when gait was slouching and awkward, and his dress the stately form which had realized full many neglected; but when he began to talk he could a boyish dream of Roman greatness "came not be mistaken for a common man. In the back upon his heart again," and seemed to re- company of persons with whom he was not proach him for his late preference of the pas- familiar his bashfulness was painful: but when sionate to the ideal. He criticised new plays he became entirely at ease, and entered on a with reluctant and indecisive hand, except favourite topic, no one's conversation was when strong friendship supplied the place of old ever more delightful. He did not talk for efreccılection, as in the instances of Barry Corn- fect, to dazzle, or surprise, or annoy, but with wall and Sheridan Knowles-the first of whom, the most simple and honest desire to make his not exhausting all the sweetness of his nature view of the subject entirely apprehended by his in scenes of fanciful tenderness and gentle hearer. There was sometimes an obvious sorrow, checred him by unwearied kindness in struggle to do this to his own satisfaction: he hours of the greatest need—and the last, as seemed labouring to drag his thought to light kind and as true, had, even from a boy, been the from its deep larking place; and, with modest object of his warmest esteem. He rejoiced to distrust of that power of expression which he observe his true-hearted pupil manifesting a had found so late in life, he often betrayed a dramatic instinct akin to that of the old masters fear that he had failed to make himself under. of passion-like them forgetting himself in his stood, and recurred to the subject again and subject, and contented to see fair play between again, that he might be assured he had suc. his persons-working all his interest out of ceeded. In argument, he was candid and libethe purest affections, which might beat in- ral: there was nothing about him pragmati. deed beneath the armour of old Rome, and cal or exclusive; he never drove a principle to beside its domestic hearths, but belong to all its utmost possible consequences, but like time—and finding an actor who, with taste and Locksley, "allowed for the wind." For some skill to preserve his upstudied grace, had heart years previous to his death, he observed an enough to send his honest homely touches to entire abstinence from fermented liquors, which the hearts of thousands. Would that Hazlitt he had once quaffed with the proper relish be had lived to witness the success of the Hunch- had for all the good things of this life, but which back"_not that it is better than the plays he courageously resigned when he found the which he did see, but that he would have ex. indulgence perilous to his health and faculties. ulted to find the town surprised for once into The cheerfulness with which he made this sajustice, recognising the pathos and beauty crifice always appeared to us one of the most which had been among them unappreciated so amiable traits in his character. He had no long, and paying part of that debt to the living censure for others, who for the same motives author, which he feared they would leave for were less wise or less resolute; nor did he posterity to acknowledge in vain!
think he had earned, by his own constanMr. Hazlitt's criticisms on pictures are, as cy, any right to intrude advice which he we have been informed by persons competent knew, if wanted, must be unavailing. Nor did to judge, and believe, masterly. Of their jus- he profess to be a convert to the general system tice we are unable to form an opinion for our- of abstinence which was advocated by one of selves: but we know that they are instinct his kindest and stanchest friends: he avowed with earnest devotion to art, and rich with il- that he yielded to necessity; and instead of lustrations of its beauties. Accounts of paint- avoiding the sight of that which he could no ings are too often either made up of technical longer taste, he was seldom so happy as when terms, which convey no meaning to the un- he sat with friends at their wine, participating initiated, or of florid description of the scenes the sociality of the time, and renewing his own represented, with scarce an allusion to the past enjoyment in that of his companions, withskill by which the painter has succeeded in out regret and without envy. Like Dr. Johnemulating nature ; but Hazlitt's early aspira- son, he made himself poor amends for the loss tions, and fond endeavours after excellence in of wine by drinking tea, not so largely, indeed, the art, preserved him effectually from these as the hero of Boswell, but at least of equal errors. He regarded the subject with a perfect potency-for he might have challenged Mrs. love. No gusty passion here ruffled the course Thrale and all her sex to make stronger tea of his thoughts: all his irritability was soothed, than his own. In society, as in politics, he was and all his disappointments forgotten, before no fincher. He loved to hear the chimes at the silent miracles of human genius; and his midnight," without considering them as a sum. own vain attempts, fondly remembered ipstead' mons to rise. At these seasons, when in his
happiest mood, he used to dwell on the conversational powers of his friends, and live over again the delightful hours he had passed with them; repeat the pregnant puns that one had made; tell over again a story with which another had convulsed the room; or expand in the eloquence of a third: always best pleased when he could detect some talent which was unregarded by the world, and giving alike, to the celebrated and the unknown, due honour. Mr. Hazlitt delivered three courses of Lectures at the Surrey Institution, to the matter of which we have repeatedly alluded—on The English Poets; on The English Comic Writers, and on The Age of Elizabeth—before audiences with whom he had but “an imperfect sympathy.” They consisted chiefly of Dissenters, who agreed with him in his hatred of Lord Castlereagh, but who “loved no plays;” of Quakers, who approved him as the opponent of Slavery and Capital Punishment, but who “heard no music;” of citizens, devoted to the main chance, who had a hankering aster “the improvement of the mind,” but to whom his favourite doctrine of its natural disinterestedness was a riddle; of a few enemies who came to sneer; and a few friends, who were eager to learn and to admire. The comparative insensibility of the bulk of his audience to his finest passages, sometimes provoked him to awaken their attention by points which broke the train of his discourse, after which he could make himself amends by some abrupt paradox which might set their prejudices on edge, and make them fancy they were shocked. He startled many of them at the onset, by observing, that, since Jacob's Dream, “the heavens have gone farther off and become astronomical,”—a fine extravagance, which the ladies and gentlemen, who had grown astronomical themselves under the preceding lecturer, felt called on to resent as an attack on their severer studies. When he read a well-known extract from Cowper, comparing a poor cottager with Voltaire, and had pronounced the line “a truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew,” they broke into a joyous shout of self-gratulation, that they were so much wiser than a wicked Frenchman! When he passed by Mrs. Hannah More with observing, that “she had written a great deal which he had never read,” a voice gave expression to the general commiseration and surprise, by calling out “More pity for you!” They were confounded at his reading with more emphasis perhaps than discretion, Gay's epigrammatic lines on Sir Richard Blackstone, in which scriptural persons are freely hitched into rhyme; but he went doggedly on to the end, and, by his perseverance, baffled those who, if he had acknowledged himself wrong by stopping, would have hissed him without mercy. He once had an edifying advantage over them. He was enumerating the humanities which endeared Dr. Johnson to his mind, and at the close of an agreeable catalogue, mentioned, as last and noblest, “his carrying the poor victim of disease and dissipation on his back through Fleet-street,”—at which a titler arose from some, who were struck by the picture as ludicrous, and a murmur from others, who deemed the allusion unfit for ears polite.
He paused for an instant, and then added in his sturdiest and most impressive manner, “an act which realizes the parable of the Good Samaritan,” at which his moral and delicate hearers shrunk rebuked into deep silence. He was not eloquent in the true sense of the term; for his thoughts were too weighty to be moved along by the shallow stream of feeling which an evening's excitement can rouse. He wrote all his lectures, and read them as they were written: but his deep voice and earnest manner suited his matter well. He seemed to dig into his subject—and not in vain. In delivering his longer quotations, he had scarcely continuity enough for the versification of Shakspeare and Milton, “with linked sweetness long drawn out;" but he gave Pope's brilliant satire and divine compliments, which are usually complete within the couplet, with an elegance and point which the poet himself would have felt as their highest praise. Mr. Hazlitt had little inclination to write about contemporary authors, and still less to read them. He was with difficulty persuaded to look into the Scotch Novels but when he did so, he found them old in substance though new in form, read them with as much avidity as the rest of the world, and expressed better than any one else what all the world felt about them. His hearty love of them, however, did not decrease, but aggravate, his dislike of the political opinions and practices of their author; and yet, the strength of his hatred towards that which was accidental and transitory, only set off the unabated power of his regard for the free and the lasting. Coleridge and Wordsworth were not moderns to him; for he knew them in his youth, which was his own antiquity, and the feelings which were the germ of their poetry had sunk deep into his heart. His personal acquaintance with them was broken before he became known to the world as an author, and he sometimes alluded to them with bitterness: but he, and he alone, has done justice to the immortal works of the one, and the genius of the other. The very prominence which he gave to them as objects of attack, at the time when it was the fashion to pour contempt on their names—when the public echoed those articles of the “Edinburgh Review” upon them, which they now regard with wonder as the curiosities of criticism, proved what they still were to him; and, in the midst of those attacks, there are involuntary confessions of their influence over his mind, are touches of admiration, heightened by fond regret, which speak more than his elaborate eulogies upon them in his “Spirit of the Age." With the exception of the works of these, and of two or three friends to whom we have alluded, he held modern literature in slight esteem; and he regarded the discoveries of science, and the visions of optimism, with an undazzled eye. His “large discourse of reason” looked not before, but asler. He felt it his great duty, as a lover of genius and art, to desend the same of the mighty dead. When the old painters were assailed in “The Catalogue Raisonnée of the British Institution,” he was “touched with noble anger.” All his own vain longings after the immortality of the works which were libelled,—the very tranquillity and beauty they had shed into his soul, all his comprehension of the sympathy and delight of thousands, which, accumulating through long time, had attested their worth—were fused together to dazzle and to blast the poor caviller who would disturb the judgment of ages. So, when a popular poet assailed the fame of Rousseau—seeking to reverse the decision of posterity on what that great writer had done, by fancying the opinion of people of condition in his neighbourhood on what he seemed to their apprehensions while living with Madame de Warrens, he vindicated the prerogatives of genius with the true logic of passion. Few things irritated him more than the claims set up for the present generation to be wiser and better than those which have gone before it. He had no power of imagination to embrace the golden clouds which hung over the Futuo, but he rested and expatiated in the Past. #. his apprehension human good did not appear a slender shoot of yesterday, like the bean-stalk in the fairy-tale, aspiring to the skies, and ending in an enchanted castle, but a huge growth of intertwisted fibres, grasping the earth by numberless roots, and bearing vestiges of “a thousand storms, a thousand thunders.” It would be beside our purpose to discuss the relative merits of Mr. Hazlitt's publications, to most of which we have alluded in passing; or to detail the scanty vicissitudes of a literary life. Still less do we feel bound to expose or to defend the personal frailties
which fell to his portion. We have endea. voured to trace his intellectual character in the records he has left of himself in his works, as an excitement and a guide to their perusal by those who have yet to know them. The concern of mankind is with this alone. In the case of a profound thinker more than of any other, “that which men call evil”—the accident of his condition—is interred with him, while the good which he has achieved lies unmingled and entire. The events of Mr. Hazlitt's true life are not his engagement by the “Morning Chronicle,” or his transfer of his services to the “Times,” or his introduction to the “Edinburgh Review,” or his con. tracts or quarrels with booksellers; but the progress and the development of his understanding as nurtured or swayed by his affections. “His warfare was within;" and its spoils are ours! His “thoughts which wan. dered through eternity” live with us, though the hand which traced them for our benefit is cold. His death, though at the age of only fifty-two, can hardly be deemed untimely. He lived to complete the laborious work in which he sought to embalm his idea of his chosen hero; to see the unhoped-for downfall of the legitimate throne which had been raised on the ruins of the empire; and to open, without exhausting, those stores which he had gathered in his youth. If the impress of his power is not left on the sympathies of a people, it has (all he wished) sunk into minds neither unre. flecting nor ungrateful.
THE LATE DO WA GER LADY HOLL AND.
[MoRNING CHRonicle, Nov. 25, 1845.]
Ir seems scarcely fitting that the grave should close over the remains of the late Dowager Lady Holland without some passing tribute beyond the paragraph which announces, with the ordinary expression of regret, the decease of a widow lady advanced in years, and reminds the world of fashion that the event has placed several noble families in mourning. That event, which a fortnight ago was regarded by friendly apprehensions as probably at the distance of some years, has not merely clouded and impaired the enjoyments of one large circle, but has extinguished for ever a spirit of social happiness which has animated many, and severed the most genial link of association, by which some of the finest minds which yet grace the literary and political world were connected with the mightiest of those which have left us. The charms of the celebrated hospitalities of Holland House, in the time of its late revered master, have been too gracefully developed, by one who has often partaken and enhanced them, in the Edinburgh Review for July, 1841, to allow a feebler expression ; but death had not then bestowed the melancholy privilege of expatiating on the share of its mistress in crowding those memorable hours with various pleasure, or on the energetic kindness with which she strove, against the perpetual sense of unutterable loss, to renew some portion of their enjoyments. For the remarkable position she occupied, during many years of those daily festivals in which genius, wit, and patriotic hope were triumphant, she was eminently gifted. While her own remarks were full of fine practical sense, and nice observation, her influence was chiefly felt in the discourse of those whom she directed and inspired, and which, as she impelled it, startled by the most animated contrasts, or blended in the most graceful harmonies. Beyond any other hostess we ever knew—and very far beyond any host—she possessed the tact of perceiving and the power of evoking the various capacities which lurked in every part of the brilliant circles she drew around her. To enkindle the enthusiasm of an artist on the theme over which he had achieved the most facile mastery; to set loose the heart of the rustic poet, and imbue his speech with the freedom of his native hills; to draw from the adventurous traveller a
breathing picture of his most imminent danger, or to embolden the bashful soldier to disclose his own share in the perils and glories of some famous battle-field; to encourage the generous praise of friendship, when the speaker and the subject reflected interest on each other, or win the secret history of some effort which had astonished the world or shed new lights on science;—to conduct those brilliant developments to the height of satisfaction, and then to shift the scene by the magic of a word, were among her daily successes. And if this extraordinary power over the elements of social enjoyment was sometimes wielded without the entire concealment of its despotism ; if a decisive check sometimes rebuked a speaker who might intercept the variegated beauty of Jeffrey's indulgent criticism, or the jest announced and self-rewarded in Sydney Smith's delighted and delighting chuckle, the authority was too clearly exerted for the evening's prosperity, and too manifestly impelled by an urgent consciousness of the value of those golden hours which were fleeting within its confines, to sadden the enforced silence with more than a momentary regret. If ever her prohibition, clear, abrupt, and decisive, indicated more than a preferable regard for livelier discourse, it was when a depreciatory tone was adopted towards genius, or goodness, or honest endeavour, or when some friend, personal or intellectual, was mentioned in slighting phrase. Habituated to a generous partisanship by strong sympathy with a great political cause, she carried the fidelity of her devotion to that cause into her social relations, and was ever the truest and the fastest of friends. The tendency, often more idle than malicious, to soften down the intellectual claims of the absent, which so insidiously besets literary conversation, and teaches a superficial insincerity even to substantial esteem and regard, found no favour in her presence; and hence the conversations over which she presided, perhaps beyond all that ever flashed with a kindred splendour, were marked by that integ
rity of good nature which might admit of their .
exact repetition to every living individual whose merits were discussed, without the danger of inflicting pain. Under her auspices, not only all critical, but all personal talk was tinged with kindness; the strong *
which she took in the happiness of her friends shed a peculiar sunniness over the aspects of life presented by the common topics of alliances, and marriages, and promotions; and not a hopeful engagement, or a happy wedding, or a promotion of a friend's son, or a new intellectual triumph of any youth with whose name and history she was familiar, but became an event on which she expected and required congratulation, as on a part of her own fortune. Although there was naturally a preponderance in her society of the sentiment of popular progress, which once was cherished almost exclusively by the party to whom Lord Holland was united by sacred ties, no expression of triumph in success, no virulence in sudden disappointment, was ever permitted to wound the most sensitive ear of her conservative guests. It might be that some placid comparison of recent with former times spoke a sense of freedom's peaceful victory; or that, on the giddy edge of some great party struggle, the festivities of the evening might take a more serious cast, as news arrived from the scene of contest, and the pleasure be deepened with the peril; but the feeling was always restrained by the present evidence of permanent solaces for the mind, which no political changes could disturb. If to hail and welcome genius—or even talent which revered and imitated genius—was one of the greatest pleasures of Lord Holland's life, to search it
out, and bring it within the sphere of his noble sympathy, was the delightful study of her’s. How often, during the last half century, has the steep ascent of fame been brightened by the genial appreciation she bestowed, and the festal light she cast on its solitude : How of. ten has the assurance of success received its crowning delight amid the genial luxury of her circle, where renown itself has been realized for the first time in all its sweetness! How large a share she communicated to the delights of Holland House will be understood by those who shared her kindness, first in South-street, and recently in Stanhope-street, where, after Lord Holland's death, she honoured his memory by cherishing his friends and following his example; where, to the last, with a voice retaining its girlish sweetness, she welcomed every guest, invited or casual, with the old cordiality and queenly grace; where authors of every age and school—from Rogers, her old and affectionate friend, whose first poem illuminated the darkness of the last closing century “like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear,” down to the youngest disciple of the latest school—found that honour paid to literature which English aristocracy has too commonly denied it; and where, every day, almost to her last, added to her claim to be remembered as one who, during a long life, cultivated the great art of living happily, by the | great means of making others happy.
AT THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE MANCHESTER ATHENAEUM, Oct. 23, 1845.
[MANchestER GUARDIAN, Oct. 25, 1845.]
If there were not virtue in the objects and purposes, and power in the affections, which have called into life the splendid scene before me, capable of emboldening the apprehensive and strengthening the feeble, I should shrink at this moment from attempting to discharge the duties of the high office to which the kindness of your directors has raised me. When I remember that the first of this series of brilliant anniversaries, which is still only beginning, was illustrated by the presidency of my friend, Mr. Charles Dickens,—who brought to your cause not only the most earnest sympathy with the healthful enjoyments and steady advancement of his species, but the splendour of a fame as early matured and as deeply impressed on the hearts of his countrymen as that of any writer since the greatest of her intellectual eras: when I recollect that his place was filled last year by one whose genius, singularly diversified and vivid, has glanced with arrowy flame over various departments of literature and conditions of life, and who was associated with kindred spirits, eager to lavish the ardours of generous youth, on the noble labour of re
newing old ties of brotherhood and attachment among all classes, ranks, and degrees of
human family,–I feel that scarcely less than the inspiration which breathes upon us here, through every avenue of good you have opened, could justify the hope that the deficiencies of the chairman of this night may be forgotten in the interest and the majesty of his themes. Impressive as such an assembly as this would be in any place, and under any circumstances, it becomes solemn, almost awful, when the true significancy of its splendour is unveiled to the mind. If we consider that this festival of intellect is holden in the capital of a district containing, within comparatively narrow confines, a population scarcely less than two millions of immortal beings, engrossed in a proportion far beyond that of any other in the world, in the toils of manufacture and commerce; that it indicates at once an unprecedented desire on the part of those elder and wealthier labourers in this region of industry, to share with those whom they employ and protect, the blessings which equally sweetea
the lot of all, and the resolution of the young