Nederlog

 

 March 9, 2011

 

More Hazlitt

 
If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief,
"to every good work reprobate."  William Hazlitt
  Man is a toad-eating animal. The admiration of power in others is as common to man as the love of it in himself: the one makes him a tyrant, the other a slave. William Hazlitt.

   "One of those few persons who are what they would be thought to be; sincere without offense, firm but temperate; uniting private worth to public principle; a friend in need, a patriot without an eye to himself; who never betrayed an individual or a cause he pretended to serve - in short, that rare character, a man of common sense and common honesty."
     Hazlitt on his publisher John Hunt.

 

William Hazlitt was English and lived from 1778-1830. He is best known as an essayist. He was a highly original and individual man, with original ideas on philosophy and a beautiful style.

He is not by far as well-known as he deserves to be, probably because he failed to please and felt pleased to hate too many and too much (according to those with lesser talents and less courage). This was mostly due to his honesty, courage, and brightness of intellect, and the obvious all-too-human failings of his fellows.

You'll find more about him in my Hazlitt-section, including eleven of his essays, and the beginning of his "Political Essays", that I myself just recently found, and hope to edit all for my site.

He was one of the few men I found who seems to me more like me than unlike me - which is saying, or at least implying, a lot, if only because I am, for this day and age, very well and also very widely read, and also because I was from a very young age conscious - made conscious by others, indeed - that I am not quite like most, which from a young age was a reason to try to find who was like me, using the medium of books, that gives on access to many more men and women, at least in writing, than one finds around one.

I am not going to argue that likeness here and now, but if my readers read a good part of Nederlog, whether in Dutch or in English, and some of my site, it should not be too difficult to get an inkling of what I have in mind on reading Hazlitt's preface to his "Political Essays", that today also is on my site for the first time.

Here it is for your delectation, in my html-edition, compiled from the txt-version + pdf-version of his "Political Essays" - and literary scientists, as they call themselves, should feel pleased that I have kept to the page-outline of the original, and inserted the page numbers, here Roman, as is quite common for Prefaces. Also, the starred items are footnotes in the original:


Hazlitt's Preface to his "Political Essays" (1819)


vii

I AM no politician, and still less can I be said to be
a party-man : but I have a hatred of tyranny, and
a contempt for its tools; and this feeling I have ex-
pressed as often and as strongly as I could. I cannot
sit quietly down under the claims of barefaced power,
and I have tried to expose the little arts of sophistry
bj whioh they are defended. I have no mind to
have my person made a property of, nor my under-
standing made a dupe of. I deny that liberty and
slavery are convertible terms, that right and wrong,
truth and falsehood, plenty and famine, the comforts
or wretchedness of a people, are matters of perfect
indifference. That is all I know of the matter ; but
on these points I am likely to remain incorrigible, in
spite of any arguments that I have seen used to
the contrary. It needs no sagacity to discover thai
two and two make four; but to persist in maintain-
ing this obvious position, if all the fashion, authority,
hypocrisy, and vqnality of mankind were arrayed
against it, would require a considerable effort of
personal courage, and would soon leave a man in a

viii

very formidable minority. Again, I am no believer
in the doctrine of divine right, either as it regards
the Stuarts or the Bourbons; nor can I bring myself
to approve of the enormous waste of blood and
treasure wilfully incurred by a family that supplanted
the one in this country to restore the others in France.
It is to my mind a piece of sheer impudence. The
question between natural liberty and hereditary sla-
very, whether men are born free or slaves, whether
kings are the servants of the people, or the people
the property of kings (whatever we may think of it
in the abstract, or debate about it in the schools) —
in this country, in Old England, and under the suc-
cession of the House of Hanover, is not a question
of theory, but has been long since decided by certain
facts and feelings, to call which in question would
be equally inconsistent with proper respect to the
people, or common decency towards the throne. An
English subject cannot call this principle in question
without renouncing his country; an English prince
cannot call it in question without disclaiming his
title to the crown, which was placed by our ancestors
on the head of his ancestors, on no other ground and
for no other possible purpose than to vindicate this
sacred principle in their own persons, and to hold it
out as an example to posterity and to the world. An
Elector of Hanover, called over here to be made king
of England, in contempt and to the exclusion of the
claims of the old, hereditary possessors and pretenders
to the throne, on any other plea except that of his

ix

being the chosen representative and appointed guar-
dian of the rights and liberties of the people (the
consequent pledge and guarantee of the rights and
liberties of other nations) would indeed be a solecism
more absurd and contemptible than any to be found
in history. What! Send for a petty Elector of a
petty foreign state to reign over us from respect to
his right to the throne of these realms, in defiance of
the legitimate heir to the crown, and "in contempt
of the choice of the people!" Oh monstrous fiction!
Miss Flora Mac Ivor would not have heard of such a
thing: the author of Waverley has well answered Mr.
Burke's "Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs." *

* Mr. Burke pretends in this Jesuitical Appeal, that a nation has a right to insist upon and revert to old establishments and prescriptive privileges, but not to lay claim to new ones; in a word, to change its governors, if refractory, but not its form of government, however bad. Thus he says we had a right to cashier James II., because he wished to alter the laws and religion as they were then established. By what right did we emancipate ourselves from popery and arbitrary power a century before? He defends his consistency in advocating the American Revolution, though the rebels, in getting rid of the reigning branch of the Royal Family, did not send for ihe next of kin to rule over them "in contempt of their choice," but prevented all such equivocations by passing at once from a viceroyalty to a republic. He also extols the Polish Revolution as a monument of wisdom and virtue (I suppose because it had not succeeded), though this also was a total and absolute change in the frame and principles of the government, to which the people were in this case bound by no feudal tenure or diimie right. But he insists that the French Revolution was stark-naught, because the people here did the same thing, passed from slavery to liberty, from an arbitrary to a constitutional government, to which they had, it seems, no prescriptive right, and therefore, according to the appellant, no right at all. Oh nice professor of humanity! We had a right to turn off James II. because be broke a compact witb the people. The French had no right to turn off. Louis XVI. because he broke no compact with them, for he had none to break; in other words, because he was an arbitrary despot, tied to no laws, and they a herd of slaves, and therefore they were bound, by every law divine and human, always to remain so, in perpetuity and by the grace of God ! Oh unanswerable logician !

x

Let not our respect for our ancestors, who fought and
bled for their owu freedom^ and to aid (not to stifle)
the cause of freedom in other nations, suffer us to be-
lieve this poor ideot calumny of them. Let not our
shame at haying been inveigled into crusades and
Holy Alliances against the freedom of mankind, suf-
fer us to be made the dupes of it ourselves, in thought,
in word, or deed. The question of genuine liberty or
of naked slavery, if put in words, should be answered
by Englishmen with scorn: if put in any other shape
than words, it must be answered in a different way,
unless they would lose the name of Englishmen!
An Englishman has no distinguishing virtue but ho-
nesty: he has and can have no privilege or advan-
tage over other nations but liberty. If he is not free,
he is the worst of slaves, for he is nothing else. If
he feels that he has wrongs and dare not say so, he
is the meanest of hypocrites; for it is certain that he
cannot be contented under them. — This was once a
free, a proud, and happy country, when under a
constitutional monarchy and a Whig king, it had
just broken the chains of tyranny that were prepared
for it, and successfully set at defiance the menaces

xi
 
of an hereditary pretender; when the monarch still
felt what he owed to himself and the people, and in
the opposite claims which were set up to it, saw the
real tenure on which he held his crown; when civil
and religious liberty were the watch-words by which
good men and true subjects were known to one ano-
ther, not by the cant of legitimacy; when the reigning
sovereign stood between you and the polluted touch
of a bigot and a despot who stood ready to seize upon
you and yours as his lawful prey; when liberty and
loyalty went hand in hand, and the Tory principles
of passive obedience and non-resistance were more
unfashionable at court than in the country; when to
uphold the authority of the throne, it was not thought
necessary to undermine the privileges or break the,
spirit of the nation; when an Englishman felt that
his name was another name for independence, "the
envy of less happier lands," when it was his pride to
be born, and his wish that other nations might be-
come free; before a sophist and an apostate had
dared to tell him that he had no share, no merit, no
free agency, in the glorious Revolution of 1688, and
that he was bound to lend a helping hand to crush
all others, that implied a right in the people to chuse
their own form of government; before he was become
sworn brother to the Pope, familiar to the Holy In-
quisition, an encourager of the massacres of his Pro-
testant brethren, a patron of the Bourbons, and jailor
to the liberties of mankind! Ah, John Bull! John
Bull! thou art not what thou wert m the days of thy

xii

friend Arbuthnot! Thou wert an honest fellow
then : now thou art turned bully and coward.

This is the only politics I know; the only patriot-
ism I feel. The question with me is, whether I
and all mankind are born slaves or free. That is the
one thing necessary to know and to make good: the
rest is flocci, nauci, nihili, pili. Secure this point, and
all is safe: lose this, and all is lost. There are peo-
ple who cannot understand a principle; nor perceive
how a cause can be connected with an individual,
even in spite of himself, nor how the salvation of
mankind can be bound up with the success of one
man. It is in vain that I address to them what fol-
lows. — "One fate attends the altar and the throne."
So sings Mr. Southey. I say, that one fate attends the
people and the assertor of the people's rights against
those who say they have no rights, that they are their
property, their goods, their chattels, the live-stock on
the estate of Legitimacy. This is what kings at present
tell us with their swords, and poets with their pens.
He who tells me this deprives me not only of the
right, but of the very heart and will to be free, takes
the breath out of the body of liberty, and leaves it a
dead and helpless corse, destroys "at one fell swoop''
the dearest hopes, and blasts the fairest prospects of
mankind through all ages and nations, sanctifies
slavery, binds it as a spell on the understanding,
and makes freedom a mockery, and the name a bye-
word. The poor wretch immured in the dungeons of
the Inquisition may breathe a sigh to liberty, may

xiii

repeat its name, may think of it as a blessings if not
to himself, to others; but the wretch imprisoned in
the dungeon of Legitimacy, the very tomb of free-
dom, that "painted sepulchre, white without, but
full of ravening and all uncleanness within," must
not even think of it, must not so much as dream of
it, but as a thing forbid: it is a profanation to his
lips, an impiety to his thoughts; his very imagination
is enthralled, and he can only look forward to the
never-ending flight of future years, and see the same
gloomy prospect of abject wretchedness and hopeless
desolation spread out for himself and his species.
They who bow to thrones and hate mankind may
here feast their eyes with blight, mildew, the blue
pestilence and glittering poison of slavery, "bogs,
dens, and shades of death — a universe of death."
This is that true moral atheism, the equal blasphemy
against God and man, the sin against the Holy Ghost,
that lowest deep of debasement aqd despair to which
there is no lower deep. He who saves me from this
conclusion, who makes a mock of this doctrine, and
sets at nought its power, is to me not less than the
God of my idolatry, for he has left one drop of com-
fort in my soul. The plague-spot has not tainted me
quite; I am not leprous all over, the lie of Legitimacy
does not fix its mortal sting in my inmost soul, nor,
like an ugly spider, entangle me in its slimy folds ;
but is kept off from me, and broods on its own poison.
He who did this for me, and for the rest of the world,
and who alone could do it, was Buonaparte. He

xiv

withstood the inroads of this new Jaggernaut, this foul
Blatant Beast, as it strode forward to its prey over the
bodies and minds of a whole people, and put a ring in
its nostrils, breathing flame and blood, and led it in
triumph, and played with its crowns and sceptres, and
wore them in its stead, and tamed its crested pride,
and made it a laughing-stock and a mockery to the
nations. He, one man, did this, and as long as he
did this, (how, or for what end, is nothing to the
magnitude of this mighty question) he saved the
human race from the last ignominy, and that foul
stain that had so long been intended, and was at last,
in an evil hour and by evil hands, inflicted on it.
He put his foot upon the neck of kings, who would
have put their yoke upon the necks of the people: he
scattered before him with fiery execution, millions of
hired slaves, who came at the bidding of their masters
to deny the right of others to be free. The monument
of greatness and of glory he erected, was raised on
ground forfeited again and again to humanity — it
reared its majestic front on the ruins of the shattered
hopes and broken faith of the common enemies of
mankind. If he could not secure the freedom, peace,
and happiness of his country, he made her a terror
to those who by sowing civil dissension and exciting
foreign wars, would not let her enjoy those blessings.
They who had trampled upon Liberty could not at
least triumph in her shame and her despair, but them-
selves became objects of pity and derision. Their
determination to persist in extremity of wrong only

xv

brought on themselves repeated defeat, disaster, and
dismay : the accumulated aggressions their infuriated
pride and disappointed malice meditated against
others, returned in just and aggravated punishment
upon themselves: they heaped coals of fire upon
their own heads; they drank deep and long, in gall
and bitterness, of the poisoned chalice they had pre-
pared for others: the destruction with which they had
threatened a people daring to call itself free, hung sus-
pended over their heads, like a precipice, ready to fall
upon and crush them. "Awhile they stood abashed,"
abstracted from their evil purposes, and felt how awful
freedom is, its power how dreadful. Shrunk from the
boasted pomp of royal state into their littleness as
men, defeated of their revenge, baulked of their prey,
their schemes stripped of their bloated pride, and
with nothing left but the deformity of their malice,
not daring to utter a syllable or move a finger, the
lords of the earth, who had looked upon men as of
an inferior species, born for their use, and devoted to
be their slave, turned an imploring eye to the people,
and with coward hearts and hollow tongues invoked
the name of Liberty, thus to get the people once more
within their unhallowed gripe, and to stifle the name of
Liberty for ever. I never joined the vile and treacher-
ous cry of spurious humanity in favour of those who
have from the beginning of time, and will to the end
of it, make a butt of humanity, and its distresses
their sport. I knew that shameful was this new alli-
ance between kings and people ; fatal this pretended

xvi

league: that "never can true reconcilement grow
where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep."
I was right in this respect. I knew my friends from
my foes. So did Lord Castlereagh: so did not
Benjamin Constant. Did any of the Princes of
Europe ever regard Buonaparte as any thing more
than the child and champion of Jacobinism? Why
then should I: for on that point I bow to their
judgments as infallible. Passion speaks truer than
reason. If Buonaparte was a conqueror, he con-
quered the grand conspiracy of kings against the
abstract right of the human race to be free; and I,
as a man, could not be indifferent which side to take.
If he was ambitious, his greatness was not founded on
the unconditional, avowed surrender of the rights of
human nature. But with him, the state of man rose
exalted too. If he was arbitrary and a tyrant, first,
France as a country was in a state of military blockade,
on garrison-duty, and not to be defended by mere paper
bullets of the brain; secondly, but chief, he was not,
nor he could not become, a tyrant by right divine.
Tyranny in him was not sacred: it was not eternal:
it was not instinctively bound in league of amity
with other tyrannies; it was not sanctioned by all
the laws of religion and morality. There was an end
of it with the individual: there was an end of it with
the temporary causes, which gave it birth, and of which
it was only the too necessary reaction. But there
are persons of that low and inordinate appetite for
servility, that they cannot be satisfied with any thing

xvii
 
short of that sort of tyranny that has lasted for ever,
and is likely to last for ever; that is strengthened and
made desperate by the superstitions and prejudices
of ages; that is enshrined in traditions, in laws, in
usages, in the outward symbols of power, in the very
idioms of language; that has struck its roots into the
human heart, and clung round the human under-
standing like a nightshade; that overawes the imagi-
nation, and disarms the will to resist it, by the very
enormity of the evil; that is cemented with gold and
blood; guarded by reverence, guarded by power;
linked in endless succession to the principle by which
life is transmitted to the generations of tyrants and
slaves, and destroying liberty with the first breath
of life; that is absolute, unceasing, unerring, fatal^
unutterable, abominable, monstrous. These true
devotees of superstition and despotism cried out
Liberty and Humanity in their desperate phrenzy at
Buonaparte's sudden elevation and incredible suc-
cesses against their favourite idol, "that Harlot old,
the same that is, thait was, and is to be,'' but we have
heard no more of their triumph of Liberty and their
douce humanité, since they clapped down the hatches
upon us again, like wretches in a slave-ship who
have had their chains struck off and pardon promised
them to fight the common enemy; and the poor
Reformers who were taken in to join the cry, because
they are as fastidious in their love of liberty as their
opponents are inveterate in their devotion to despot-
ism, continue in vain to reproach them with their

xviii

temporary professions, woeful grimaces, and vows
made in pain, which ease has recanted; but to these
reproaches the legitimate professors of Liberty and
Humanity do not even deign to return the answer of
a smile at their credulity and folly. Those who did
not see this result at the time were, I think, weak;
those who do not acknowledge it now are, I am sure,
hypocrites.— To this pass have we been brought by
the joint endeavours of Tories, Whigs, and Reformers;
and as they have all had a hand in it, I shall here
endeavour to ascribe to each their share of merit in
this goodly piece of work. It is, perhaps, a delicate
point, but it is of no inconsiderable importance, that
the friends of Freedom should know the strength of
their enemies, and their own weakness as well ; for

'' ———At this day,
When a Tartarean darkness overspreads
The groaning nations; when the impious rule,
By will or by established ordinance,
Their own dire agents, and constrain the good
To acts which they abhor; though I bewail
This triumph, yet the pity of my heart
Prevents me not from owning that the law
By which mankind now suffers, is most just.
For by superior energies; more strict
Affiance to each other; faith more firm
In their unhallowed principles; the bad
Have fairly earned a victory o'er the weak.
The vacillating, inconsistent good"

A Reformer is not a gregarious animal. Specula-
tive opinion leads men different ways, each according

xix

to his particular fancy:- it is prejudice ot interest
that drives before it the herd of mankind. That
which is, with all its confirmed abuses and "tickling
commodities," is alone solid and certain: that which
may be
or ought to be, has a thousand shapes and
colours, according to the eye that sees it, is infinitely
variable and evanescent in its effects. Talk of mobs
as we will, the only true mob is that incorrigible mass
of knaves and fools in every country, who never think
at all, and who never feel for any one but themselves.
I call any assembly of people a mob (be it the
House of Lords or House of Commons) where each
person's opinion on any question is governed by what
others say of it, and by what he can get by it.
The only instance of successful resistance in the
House of Commons to Ministers for many years was
in the case of the Income-Tax; which touched their
own pockets nearly. This was "a feeling disputa-
tion," in which selfishness got the better of servility,
while reason and humanity might have pleaded in
vain. The exception proved the rule; and this evi-
dence was alone wanting to establish their character
for independence and disinterestedness. When some
years ago Mr. Robson brought forward in the House
the case of an Exchequer Bill for 3l. 16s. which
had been refused payment at the Bank, the Chan-
cellor of the Exchequer (then Mr. Addington, now
Lord Sidmouth) rose, and in a tone of indignation,
severely reprimanded Mr. Robson for having prema-
turely brought forward a fact which he knew to be

xx

impossible; and the House cheered the Minister,
and scouted Mr. Robson and his motion for inquiry.
The next day, Mr. Robson repeated his charge, and
Mr. Addington rose, and in the same tone of official
authority, brow-beat Mr. Robson for having brought
forward, as something reprehensible and extraordinary,
what he said happened every day, though the day
before he had undertaken of his own accord to pro-
nounce it impossible; and the House cheered the
Minister, and scouted Mr. Robson and his motion for
inquiry. What was it to them whether Mr. Robson
was right or wrong? It was their cue (I speak this
of the House of Commons of 1803) to support the
Minister, whether right or wrong! Every corporate
body, or casual concourse of people, is nothing more
than a collection of prejudices, and the only argu-
ments current with them, a collection of watch-words.
You may ring the changes for ever on the terms
Bribery and Corruption with the people in Palace-
yard, as they do in the Room over the way on Re-
ligion, Loyalty, Public Credit, and Social Order.
There is no difference whatever in this respect be-
tween the Great Vulgar and the Small, who are
managed just in the same way by their different
leaders. To procure unanimity, to get men to act
in corps, we must appeal for the most part to gross
and obvious motives, to authority and passion, to
their vices, not their virtues: we must discard plain
truth and abstract justice as doubtful and inefficient
pleas^ retaining only the names and the pretext as a

xxi

convenient salvo for hypocrisy! He is the best
leader of a party who can find out the greatest num-
ber of common-places faced with the public good;
and he will be the stoutest partisan who can best turn
the lining to account. — Tory sticks to Tory: Whig
sticks to Whig: the Reformer sticks neither to him-
self nor to any body else. It is no wonder he comes
to the ground with all his schemes and castle-
building. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
It is a pity, but it cannot be helped. A Reformer is
necessarily and naturally a Marplot, for the foregoing
and the following reasons. First, he does not very
well know what he would be at. Secondly, if he did,
he does not care very nnich about it. Thirdly, he is
governed habitually by a spirit of contradiction, and
is always wise beyond what is practicable. He is a
bad tool to work with; a part of a machine that
never fits its place; be cannot be trained to discipline,
for he follows his own idle humours, or drilled into
an obedience to orders, for the first principle of his
mind is the supremacy of conscience, and the inde-
pendent right of private judgment. A man to be a
Reformer must be more influenced by imagination
and reason than by received opmions or sensible im-
pressions. With him ideas bear sway over things;
the possible is of more value than the real; that
which is not, is better than that which is. He is by
the supposition a speculative (and somewhat fantas-
tical) character ; but there is no end of possible
speculations, of imaginary questions, and nice dis-

xxii

tinctions; or if there were, he would not willingly
come to it; he would still prefer living in the world
of his own ideas, be for raising some new objection,
and starting some new chimera, and never be satisfied
with any plan that he found he could realise. Bring
him to a fixed point, and his occupation would be
gone. A Reformer never is — but always to be blest,
in the accomplishment of his airy hopes and shifting
schemes of progressive perfectibility. Let him have
the plaything of his fancy, and he will spoil it, like
the child that makes a hole in its drum: set some
brilliant illusion before his streaming eyes, and he
will lay violent hands upon it, like little wanton boys
that play with air-bubbles. Give him one thing, and
he asks for another; like the dog in the fable, he loses
the substance for the shadow : offer him a great good,
and he will not stretch out his hand to take it, unless
it were the greatest possible good. And then who is
to determine what is the greatest possible good?
Among a thousand pragmatical speculators, there
will be a thousand opinions on this subject; and the
more they differ, the less will they be inclined to give
way or compromise the matter. With each of these,
his self-opinion is the first thing to be attended to;
his understanding must be satisfied in the first place,
or he will not budge an inch; he cannot for the
world give up a principle to a party. He would
rather have slavery than liberty, unless it is a liberty
precisely after his own fashion: he would sooner have
the Bourbons than Buonaparte; for he truly is for a

xxiii

Republic, and if he cannot haye that, is indifferent
about the rest So (to compare great things with
small) Mr. Place, of Charing-Cross, chose rather
that Mr. Hobhouse should lose his Election than
that it should not be accompanied with his Reso-
lutions; so he published his Resolutions, and lost
Mr. Hobhouse his Election. That is, a patriot of
this stamp is really indifferent about every thing but
what he cannot have; instead of making his option
between two things, a good or an evil, within his
reach, our exquisite Sir sets up a third thing as the
object of his choice, with some impossible condition
annexed to it,— to dream, to talk, to write, to be
meddlesome and troublesome about, to serve him for
a topic of captious discontent or vague declamation,
and which if he saw any hopes of cordial agreement
or practical co-operation to carry it into effect, he
would instantly contrive to mar, and split it into a
thousand fractions, doubts, and scruples, to make it
an impossibility for any thing ever to be done for the
good of mankind, which is merely the plaything of
his theoretical imbecility and active impertinence!
The Goddess of his idolatry is and will always remain
a cloud, instead of a Juno. One of these virtuosos,
these Nicolas Gimcracks of Reform, full of intolerable
.and vain conceit, sits smiling in the baby-house of
his imagination, "pleased with a feather, tickled
with a straw'' trimming the balance of power in
the looking-glass of his own self-complacency, having
.every thing gis own way at a word's speaking, making

xxiv

the "giant-mass" of things only a reflection of his
personal pretensions, approving every thing that is right,
condemning every thing that is wrong, in compliment
to his own character, considering how what he says
will affect not the cause, but himself; keeping him-
self aloof from party-spirit, and from every thing that
can cast a shade on the fancied delicacy of his own
breast, and thus letting the cause of Liberty slip
through his fingers, and be spilt like water on the
ground:— while another, more bold than he, in a
spirit of envy and ignorance, quarrels with all those
who are labouring at the same oar, lays about him
like mad, runs a-muck at every one who has done,
or is likely to do, any thing to promote the common
object, and with his desperate club dashes out his
neighbour's brains, and thinks he has done a good
piece of service to the cause, because he has glutted
his own ill-humour and self-will, which he mistakes
for the love of liberty and a zeal for truth! Others,
not able to do mischief enough singly, club their
senseless contradictions and unmanageable humours
together, turn their attention to cabal and chicane,
get into committees, make speeches, move or second
resolutions, dictate to their followers, set up for the
heads of a party, in opposition to another party;
abuse, vilify, expose, betray, counteract and under-
mine each other in every way, and throw the game
into the hands of the common enemy, who laughs in
his sleeve, and watches them and their little perverse,
pettifogging passions at work for him, from the high

xxv

tower of his pride and strength! If an honest and
able man arises ainong them, they grow jealous of
him, and would rather, in the petty ostracism of their
minds, that their cause should fail, than that another
should have the credit of bringing it to a triumphant
conclusion. They criticise his conduct, carp at his
taleoils, denounce his friends, suspect his motives,
and do not rest, till by completely disgusting him
with the name of Reform and Reformers, they have
made him what they wish, a traitor and deserter from
a cause that no man can serve! This is just what
they like— they satisfy their malice, they have to find
out a new leader, and the cause is to begin again!
So it was, and so it will he, while man remains the
little, busy, mischievous animal described in Gulli-
ver's Travels!— A pretty hopeful set to make head
against their opponents— a rope of sand against a
rock of marble— with no centre of gravity, but a
collection of atoms whirled about in empty space by
their own levity, or jostling together by numberless
points of repulsion, and tossed with all their officious
projects and airy predictions, by the first breath
of caprice or shock of power, into that Limbo of
Vanity, where embryo statesmen and drivelling legis-
lators dance the hays of Reform, "perpetual circle,
multiform and mix, and hinder all things," proud of
the exdusive purity of their own motives, and the
unattainahle perfection of their own plans! — How
different from the self-centred, well-knit, inseparable
phalanx of power and authority opposed to their

xxvi

impotent and abortive designs! A Tory is one
who is governed by sense and habit alone. He
considers not what is possible, but what is real; he
gives might the preference over right. He cries Long
Life to the conqueror, and is ever strong upon the
stronger side — the side of corruption and prerogative.
He says what others say; he does as he is prompted
by his own advantage. He knows on which side his
bread is buttered, and that St. Peter is well at Rome.
He is for going with Sancho to Camacho's wedding,
and not for wandering with Don Quixote in the de-
sert, after the mad lover. Strait is the gate and nar-
row is the way that leadeth to Reform, but broad is
the way that leadeth to Corruption, and multitudes
there are that walk therein. The Tory is sure to be
in the thickest of them. His principle is to follow
the leader; and this is the infallible rule to have
numbers and success on your side, to be on the side
of success and numbers. Power is the rock of his
salvation; priestcraft is the second article of his im-
plicit creed. He does not trouble himself to inquire
which is the best form of government — but he knows
that the reigning monarch is ''the best of kings."
He does not, like a fool, contest for modes of faith;
but like a wise man, swears by that which is by law
established. He has no principles himself, nor does
he profess to have any, but will cut your throat for
differing with any of his bigotted dogmas, or for ob-
jecting to any act of power that he supposes neces-
sary to his interest. He will take his Bible-oath that

xxvii

black is white, and that whatever is, is right, if it is
for his convenience. He is for having a slice in the
loan, a share in a borough, a situation in the church
or state, or for standing well with those who have.
He is not for empty speculations, but for full pockets.
He is for having plenty of beef and pudding, a good
coat to his back, a good house over his head, and for
cutting a respectable figure in the world. He is
Epicuri de grege porcus— not a man but a beast. He
is styed in his prejudices— he wallows in the mire
of his senses — he cannot get beyond the trough of
his sordid appetites, whether it is of gold or wood.
Truth and falsehood are, to him, something to buy
and sell; principle and conscience, something to
eat and drink. He tramples on the plea of Huma-
nity, and lives, like a caterpillar, on the decay of
public good. Beast as he is, he knows that the King
is the fountain of honour, that there are good things
to be had in the Church, treats the cloth with re-
spect, bows to a magistrate, lies to the tax-gatherer,
nicknames the Reformers, and "blesses the Regent
and the Duke of York.'' He treads the primrose path
of preferment; "when a great wheel goes up a hill,
holds fast by it, and when it rolls down, lets it go."
He is not an enthusiast, a Utopian philosopher or a
Theophilanthropist, but a man. of business and the
worlds who minds the main chance, does as other
people do, and takes his wife's advice to get on in
the world, and set up a coach for her to ride in, as
fast as possible. This fellow is in the rights and

xxviii

"wiser in his generation than the children of the
light." The "servile slaves" of wealth and power
have a considerable advantage over the independent
and the free. How much easier is it to smell out a
job than to hit upon a scheme for the good of man-
kind ! How much safer is it to be the tool of the
oppressor than the advocate of the oppressed! How
much more fashionable to fall in with the opinion of
the worlds to bow the knee to Baal, than to seek for
obscure and obnoxious truth! How strong are the
ties that bind men together for their own advantage,
compared with those that bind them to the good of
their country or of their kind! For as the Reformer
has no guide to his conclusions but speculative
reason, which is a source not of unanimity or cer-
tainly, but of endless doubt and disagreement, so he
has no ground of attachment to them bot a specu-
lative interest, which is too often liable to be warped
by sinister motives, and is a flimsy barrier against
the whole weight of worldly and practical interests
opposed to it. He either tires and grows lukewarm
after the first gloss of novelty is over, and is thrown
into the hands of the adverse party, or to keep alive
an interest in it, he makes it the stalking-horse of his
ambition, of his personal enmity, of his conceit or
love of gossipping; as we have seen. An opinion
backed by power and prejudice, rivetted and mor-
tised to the throne, is of more force and validity than
all the abstract reason in the world, without power
and prejudice. A cause centred in an individual,

xxix

which is strengthened by all the ties of passion and
self-interest, as in the case of a king against a whole
people, is more likely to prevail than that of a
scattered multitude, who have only a cominon and
divided interest to hold them together, and "screw
their courage to the sticking-place," against an in-
fluence, that is never distracted or dissipated; that
neither slumbers nor sleeps; that is never lulled into
security, nor tamed by adversity; that is intoxicated
with the insolence of success, and infuriated with the
rage of disappointment; that eyes its one sole object
of personal aggrandisement, moves unremittingly to
it, and carries after it millions of its slaves and trains
bearers. Can you persuade a king to hear reason,
to submit his pretensions to the tribunal of the people,
to give up the most absurd and mischievous of his
prerogatives ? No: he is always true to himself, he
grasps at power and hugs it close, as it is exorbitant
or invidious, or likely to be torn from him; and his
followers stick to him, and never boggle at any
lengths they are forced to go, because they know
what they have to trust to in the good faith of kings 
to themselves and one another. Power then is
fixed and immoveable, for this reason, because it
is lodged in an individual who is driven to madness
by the undisputed possession, or apprehended loss of
it; his self-will is the key-stone that supports the
tottering arch of corruption, steadfast as it leans on
him:— liberty is vacillating, transient, and hunted
through the world, because it is entrusted to the

xxx

breasts of many, who care little about it, and
quarrel in the execution of their trust. Too many
cooks spoil the broth. The principle of tyranny is
in fact identified with a man's pride and the servility
of others in the highest degree; the principle of
liberty abstracts him from himself, and has to con-
tend in its feeble course with all his own passions,
prejudices, interests, and those of the world and of
his own party; the cavils of Reformers, the threats
of Tories, and the sneers of Whigs.*

A modern Whig is but the fag-end of a Tory. The
old Whigs were in principle what the modern Jaco-
bins are, Anti-Jacobites, that is, opposers of the
doctrine of divine right, the one in the soil of Eng-
land, the other by parity of reasoning in the soil
of France. But the Opposition have pressed so long
against the Ministry without effect, that being the

*" There is none of this perplexity and jarring of difierent objects in the tools of power. Their jealousies, heart-burnings, lore of precedence, or scruples of conscience, are made subservient to the great cause in which they are embarked; they leave the amicable division of the spoil to the powers that be; all angry disputes are hushed in the presence of the throne, and the corrosive, fretful particles of human nature fly off, and are softened by the influence of a court atmosphere. Courtiers hang together like a swarm of bees about a honeycomb. Not so the Reformers; for they have no honey-comb to attract them. It has been said that Reformers are often indifferent characters. The reason is, that the ties which bind most men to their duties— habit, example, regard to appearances— are relaxed in them; and other and better principles are, as yet, weak and unconfirmed.

xxxi

softer substance, and made of more yielding materials,
they have been moulded into their image and super-
scription, spelt backwards, or they differ as concave
and convex, or they go together like substantive and
adjective, or like man and wife, they two have be-
come one flesh. A Tory is the indispensable prop to
the doubtful sense of self-importance, and peevish
irritability of negative success, which mark the life of
a Whig leader or underling. They "are subdued
even to the very quality" of the Lords of the Trea-
sury Bench, and have quarrelled so long that they
would be quite at a loss without the ordinary food of
political contention. To interfere between them is
as dangerous as to interfere in a matrimonial squabble.
To overturn the one is to trip up the heels of the
other. Their hostility is not directed against things
at all, nor to effectual and decisive opposition to men,
but to that sort of petty warfare and parliamentary
tracasserie, of which there is neither end nor use,
except making the parties concerned of consequence
in their own eyes, and contemptible in those of the
nation. They will not allow Ministers to be severely
handled by any one but themselves, nor even that:
but they say civil things of them in the House of
Commons, and whisper scandal against them at
Holland House. This shews gentlemanly refinement
and good breeding; while my Lord Erskine "calls us
untaught knaves, unmannerly to come betwixt the
wind and his nobility." But the leaden bullets and
steel bayonets, the ultima ratio regum by which

xxxii

these questions are practically decided, do their busi-
ness in another-guess manner; they do not stand on
the same ceremony. Soft words and hard blows are
a losing game to play at: and this, one would think,
the Opposition, if they were sincere, must have
found out long ago. But they rather wish to screen
the Ministry, as their locum tenens in the receipt of
the perquisites of office and the abuse of power, of
which they themselves expect the reversion.

" Strange that such difference should be
Twixt Tweedledum and Tweedledee."

The distinction between a great Whig and Tory
Lord is laughable. For Whigs to Tories "nearly
are allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide."
So I cannot find out the different drift (as far as
politics are concerned) of the ********* and
********* Reviews, which remind one of Oppo-
sition coaches, that raise a great dust or spatter one
another with mud, but both travel the same road and
arrive at the same destination. When the Editor of a
respectable Morning Paper reproached me with having
called Mr. Gifford a cat's-paw, I did not tell him that
he was a glove upon that cat's-paw. I might have
done so. There is a difference between a sword and a
foil. The Whigs do not at all relish that ugly thing,
a knock-down blow: which is so different from their
endless see-saw way of going about a question*
They are alarmed, "lest the courtiers offended
should be:" for they are so afraid of their adversaries,

xxxiii

that they dread the reaction even of snccessful oppo-
sition to them, and will neither attempt it themselves,
nor stand by any one that does. Any writer who is
not agreeable to the Tories, becomes obnoxious to the
Whigs; he is disclaimed by them as a dangerous
colleague, merely for having "done the cause some
service;" is considered as having the malicious design
to make a breach of the' peace, and to interrupt with
most admired disorder the harmony and mutual good
understanding which subsists between Ministers and
the Opposition, and on the adherence to which they
are alone suffered to exist, or to have a shadow of
importance in the state. They are, in fact, a conve-
nient medium to break the force of popular feeling,
and to transmit the rays of popular indignation
against the influence and power of the crown,
blunted and neutralized by as many qualifications
and refractions as possible. A Whig is properly what
is called a Trimmer— that is, a coward to both sides
of a question, who dare not be a knave nor an honest
man, but is a sort of whiffling, shuffling, cunning,
silly, contemptible, unmeaning negation of the two.
He is a poor purblind creature, who halts between two
opinions, and complains that he cannot get any two
people to think alike. He is a cloak for corruption,
and a mar-plot to freedom. He will neither do any
thing himself, nor let any one else do it. He is on
bad terms with the Government, and not on good
ones with the people. He is an impertinence and
a contradiction in the state. If he has a casting

xxxiv

weight, for fear of overdoing the mark, he throws it
into the wrong scale. He is a person of equally
feeble understanding and passions. He has some
notion of what is right, just enough to hinder him
from pursuing his own interest: he has selfish and
worldly prudence enough, not to let him embark in
any bold or decided measure for the advancement of
truth and justice. He is afraid of his own conscience,
which will not let him lend his unqualified support
to arbitrary measures; he stands in awe of the opinion
of the world, which will not let him express his op-
position to those measures with warmth and effect.
His politics are a strange mixture of cross-purposes.
He is wedded to forms and appearances, impeded
by every petty obstacle and pretext of difficulty,
more tenacious of the means than the end— anxious
to secure all suffrages, by which he secures none—
hampered not only by the ties of friendship to his
actual associates, but to all those that he thinks may
become so; and unwilling to offer arguments to con-
vince the reason of his opponents lest he should offend
their prejudices, by shewing them how much they
are in the wrong; "letting I dare not wait upon I
would, like the poor cat in the adage;" stickling for
the letter of the Constitution, with the affectation of
a prude, and abandoning its principles with the
effrontery of a prostitute to any shabby Coalition he
can patch up with its deadly enemies. This is very
pitiful work; and, I believe, the public with me are
tolerably sick of the character. At the same time, he

xxxv

hurls up his cap with a foolish face of wonder and
incredulity at the restoration of the Bourbons, and
affects to chuckle with secret satisfaction over the last
act of the Revolution, which reduced him to perfect
insignificance. We need not wonder at the results,
when it comes to the push between parties so differ-
ently constituted and unequally matched. We have
seen what those results are. I cannot do justice to
the picture, but I find it done to my hands in those
prophetic lines of Pope, where he describes the last
Triumph of Corruption : —

" But 'tis the fall degrades her to a whore:
Let greatness own her, and she's mean no more.
Her birth, her beauty, crowds and courts confess;
Chaste matrons praise her, and grave bishops bless:
In golden chains the willing world she draws.
And her's the Gospel is, and her's the Laws;
Mounts the tribunal, lifts her scarlet head.
And sees pale virtue carted in her stead.
Lo ! at the wheels of her triumphal car.
Old England's genius, rough with many a scar,
Dragg'd in the dust! his arms hang idly round.
His flag inverted trails along the ground;
Our youth, all liveried o'er with foreign gold.
Before her dance, behind her crawl the old!
See thronging millions to the Pagod run.
And ofier country, parent, wife, or son!
Hear her black trumpet thro' the land proclaim.
That not to be corrupted is the shame.
In soldier, churchman, patriot, man in power,
'Tis avarice all, ambition is no more !
See all our nobles begging to be slaves !
See all our fools aspiring to be knaves !

xxxvi

All, all look up with reverential awe
At crimes that 'scape or triumph o'er the law;
While truth, worth, wisdom daily they decry;
'Nothing is sacred now but villainy.'
Yet may this verse (if such a verse remain)
Shew there was one who held it in disdain."


As I said, I'll try to put all of Hazlitt's "Political Essays" on line in my edition, if possible also with my comments, but make no promises about the eventual outcome, mostly because of ME, and not because I don't want to.


P.S. Corrections will have to be made later, if at all.

Here is more on Hazlitt by me, in English, from June last year:

There's more on him and by him in Nederlog of last year, all in English, and also some in Dutch in earlier years.


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything uponinsufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
 


    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
"
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 


    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)

 


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources


Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

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