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great man sinking amidst the twilight of his own renown, after a brilliant and unclouded race, if a solemn, is an inspiring and elating spectacle. But Nature has no sight more sad and cheerless than the sun of a genius which the clouds have so long and drearily overcast that there are few to mourn and miss the luminary when it sinks from the horizon.

The faults of Hazlitt have been harshly judged, because they have not been fairly analysed they arose mostly from an arrogant and lordly sense of superiority. It is to this that I resolve his frequent paradoxes—his bold assertions—his desire to startle.

It was the royalty of talent which does not measure its conduct by the maxims of those whom it would rule. He was the last man to play the thrifty with his thoughts— he sent them forth with an insolent ostentation, and cared not much what they shocked or whom they offended. I suspect that half which the unobservant have taken literally, he meant, secretly, in sarcasm. As Johnson in conversation, so Hazlitt in books, pushed his own theories to the extreme, partly to show his power, partly perhaps, from contempt of the logic of his readers. He wrote rather for himself than others; and often seems to vent all his least

assured and most uncertain thoughts-as if they troubled him by the doubts they inspired, and his only anxiety was to get rid of them. He had a keen sense of the Beautiful and the Subtle ; and what is more, he was deeply embued with sympathies for the Humane. He ranks high amongst the social writers — his intuitive feeling was in favour of the multitude; -yet had he nothing of the demagogue in literature; he did not pander to a single vulgar passion. His intellectual honesty makes him the Dumont of letters even where his fiery eloquence approaches him to the Mirabeau.

Posterity will do him justice—the first interval of peace and serenity which follows our present political disputes, will revive and confirm his name.

A complete collection of his works is all the monument he demands. To the next age he will stand amongst the foremost of the thinkers of the present; and that late and tardy retribution will assuredly be his, which compensates to others the neglect to which men of genius sometimes (though not so frequently as we believe) are doomed ;—that retribution which, long after the envy they provoked is dumb, and the errors they themselves committed are forgotten-invests with interest every thing that is associated with their names ;-making it an honour even to have been their cotemporaries, and an hereditary rank to be their descendants.


London, March 10, 1835.





As an author, Mr Hazlitt may be contemplated principally in three aspects,-as a moral and political reasoner; as an observer of character and manners; and as a critic in literature and painting. It is in the first character only that he should be followed with caution. His metaphysical and political essays contain rich treasures, sought with years of patient toil, and poured forth with careless prodigality,-materials for thinking, a small part of which wisely employed will enrich him who makes them his own,—but the choice is not wholly unattended with perplexity and danger. He had, indeed, as passionate a desire for truth as others have for wealth, or power, or fame. The purpose of his research was always steady and pure; and no temptation from without could induce him to pervert or to conceal the faith that was in him. But, besides that love of truth, that sincerity in pursuing it, and that boldness in telling it, he had earnest aspirations after the beautiful, a strong sense of pleasure, an intense consciousness of his own individual being, which broke the current of abstract speculation into dazzling eddies, and sometimes turned it astray. The vivid sense of beauty may, indeed, have fit home in the breast of the searcher after truth,– but then he must also be endowed with the highest of all human faculties, the great mediatory and interfusing power of Imagination, which presides supreme in the mind, brings all its powers and impulses into harmonious action, and becomes itself the single organ of all. At its touch, truth becomes visible in the shapes of beauty; the fairest of material things appear the living symbols of airy thought; and the mind apprehends the finest affinities of the worlds of sense and of spirit “in clear dream and solemn vision.” By its aid the faculties are not only balanced, but multiplied into each other; are pervaded by one feeling, and directed to one issue. But, without it, the inquirer after truth will sometimes be confounded by too intense a yearning after the grand and the lovely,

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