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of Barry Cornwall and Sheridan Knowles—the first of whom, not exhausting all the sweetness of his nature in scenes of fanciful tenderness and gentle sorrow, cheered him by unwearied kindness in hours of the greatest need—and the last, as kind and as true, had, even from a boy, been the object of his warmest esteem. He rejoiced to observe his true-hearted pupil manifesting a dramatic instinct akin to that of the old masters of passion—like them forgetting himself in his subject, and contented to see fair play between his persons—working all his interest out of the purest affections, which might beat indeed beneath the armour of old Rome, and beside its domestic hearths, but belong to all time—and finding an actor who, with taste and skill to preserve his unstudied grace, had heart enough to send his honest homely touches to the hearts of thousands. Would that Hazlitt had lived to witness the success of the "Hunchback "—not that it is better than the plays which he did see, but that he would have exulted to find the town surprised for once into justice, recognising the pathos and beauty which had been among them unappreciated so long, and paying part of that debt to the living author, which he feared they would leave for posterity to acknowledge in vain!
Mr. Hazlitt's criticisms on pictures are, as we have been informed by persons competent to judge, and believe, masterly. Of their justice we are unable to form an opinion for ourselves; but we know that they are instinct with earnest devotion to art, and rich with illustrations of its beauties. Accounts of paintings are too often either made up of technical terms, which convey no meaning to the uninitiated, or of florid description of the scenes represented, with scarce an allusion to the skill by which the painter has succeeded in emulating nature; but Hazlitt's early aspirations, and fond endeavours after excellence in the art, preserved him effectually from these errors. He regarded the subject with a perfect love. No gusty passion here ruffled the course of his thoughts: all his irritability was soothed, and all his disappointments forgotten, before the silent miracles of human genius; and his own vain attempts, fondly remembered, instead of exciting envy of the success of others, heightened his sense of their merit, and his pleasure and pride in accumulating honours on their names. Mr. Hunt says of these essays, that they "- throw a light on art as from a painted window,"—a sentence which, in its; few words, characterizes them all, and leaves nothing to be wished or added.
In person, Mr. Hazlitt was of the middle size, with a handsome and eager countenance, worn by sickness and thought; and dark hair, which had curled stiffly over the temples, and was only of late years sprinkled with gray. His gait was slouching and awkward, and his dress neglected; but when he began to talk he could not be mistaken for a common man. In the company of persons with whom he was not familiar his bashfulness was painful; but when he became entirely at ease, and entered on a favourite topic, no one's conversation was ever more delightful. He did not talk for effect, to dazzle, or surprise, or annoy, but with the most simple and honest desire to make his view of the subject entirely apprehended by his hearer. There was sometimes an obvious struggle to do this to his own satisfaction: he seemed labouring to drag his thought to light from its deep lurking place; and, with modest distrust of that power of expression which he had found so late in life, he often betrayed a fear that he had failed to make himself understood, and recurred to the subject again and again, that he might be assured he had succeeded. In argument, he was candid and liberal: there was nothing about him pragmatical or exclusive; he never drove a principle to its utmost possible consequences, but like Locksley, "allowed for the wind." For some years previous to his death, he observed an entire abstinence from fermented liquors, which he had once quaffed with the proper relish he had for all the good things of this life, but which he courageously resigned when he found the indulgence perilous to his health and faculties. The cheerfulness with which he made this sacrifice always appeared to us one of the most amiable traits in his character. He had no censure for others, who with the same motives were less wise or less resolute; nor did he think he had earned, by his own constancy, any right to intrude advice which he knew, if wanted, must be unavailing. Nor did he profess to be a convert to the general system of abstinence which was advocated by one of his kindest and stanchest friends: he avowed that he yielded to necessity; and instead of avoiding the sight of that which he could no longer taste, he was seldom so happy as when he sat with friends at their wine, participating the sociality of the time, and renewing his own past enjoyment in that of his companions, without regret and without envy. Like Dr.. Johnson, he made himself poor amends for the loss of wine by drinking tea, not so largely, indeed, as the hero of Boswell, but at least of equal potency—for he might have challenged Mrs. Thrale and all her sex to make stronger tea than his own. In society, as in politics, he was no flincher. He loved "to hear the chimes at midnight," without considering them as a summons 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 hac. convulsed the room; or expand in the eloquence of a third; always best pleased when he could detect some talent whicn was unregarded by the world, and giving alike, to the ceksbrated and the unknown, due honour.
Mr. Hazlitt delivered three courses of Lectures at th» 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 after " 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 titter 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 contem
porary 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 a 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 after. He felt it his great duty, as a lover of genius and art, to defend the fame of the mighty dead. When the old painters were assailed in "The Catalogue Raisonnee 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