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Jun 29, 2011           

Zeitlin on Hazlitt - 3

Continuing the series on Zeitlin on Hazlitt, the present file has the third and last part of Zeitlin's introduction to Hazlitt. Parts 1 and 2 are here

It dates back to 1913, and the original is here, in a fine html-edition on Project Gutenberg:

In what follows, Zeitlin's notes are on the pattern of "[1]" and appear below his text, in the present file, while my notes are on the pattern of "[M1]" and will be inserted later, and in another file, all as with the first and second part.

Here is the last part of Zeitlin's introduction to Hazlitt, that indeed has been divided into three parts for my convenience, and not to make too long a file in Nederlog, but eventually will end up in the Hazlitt-section on my site, very probably recast in one long file with Zeitlin's text and notes, and another long file with my notes to his text.

In the text of Zeitlin that follows I have inserted the links, that are nearly all to Wikipedia, to provide background. Apart from a remark of mine at the end, what follows is Zeitlin's text. Clicking on the title will lead you to the previous part:


If an understanding of Shakespeare in Hazlitt’s day may be taken as a measure of a critic’s depth of insight, his attitude toward Shakespeare’s fellow-dramatists will just as surely reveal his powers of discrimination. [M1] Lamb was often carried away by a pioneer’s fervor and misled persons like Lowell, who, returning to Ford late in life, found “that the greater part of what [he] once took on trust as precious was really paste and pinchbeck,” and that as far as the celebrated closing scene in “The Broken Heart” was concerned, Charles Lamb’s comment on it was “worth more than all Ford ever wrote.”[92] Hazlitt’s dispassionate sanity in this instance forms an instructive contrast: “Except the last scene of the Broken Heart (which I think extravagant—others may think it sublime, and be right) they [Ford’s plays] are merely exercises of style and effusion of wire-drawn sentiment.”[93] The same strength of judgment rendered Hazlitt proof against the excessive sentimentality in Beaumont and Fletcher and gave a distinct value to his opinions even when they seemed to be wrong, which was not often. But in writing of Marlowe, of Dekker and of Webster, he spreads out all his sail to make a joyous run among the beauties in his course.

And it is so with the rest of his criticism—throughout the same susceptibility to all that is true, or lofty, or refined, vigilantly controlled by a firm common sense, the same stamp of originality unmistakably impressed on all. [M2] “I like old opinions with new reasons,” he once said to Northcote, “not new opinions without any.”[94] [M3] But he did not hesitate to express a new opinion where the old one appeared to be unjust. His heretical preference of Steele over Addison has found more than one convert in later days. On Spenser or Pope, on Fielding or Richardson, he is equally happy and unimprovable. In the opinion of Mr. Saintsbury, Hazlitt’s general lecture on Elizabethan literature, his treatment of the dramatists of the Restoration, of Pope, of the English Novelists, and of Cobbett have never been excelled; and who is better qualified than Mr. Saintsbury by width of reading to express such an opinion?[95] [M4]

Of Hazlitt’s treatment of his own contemporaries an additional word needs to be said. No charge has been repeated more often than that of the inconsistency, perversity, and utter unreliableness of his judgments on the writers of his day. [M5] To distinguish between the claims of living poets, particularly in an age of new ideas and changing forms, is a task which might test the powers of the most discerning critics, and in which perfection is hardly to be attained. Yet one may ask whether in the entire extent of Hazlitt’s writing a great living genius has been turned into a mockery or a figurehead been set up for the admiration of posterity. Of his personal and political antipathies enough has been said, but against literary orthodoxy his only great sin is a harsh review of “Christabel.”[96] [M6] If in general we look at the age through Hazlitt’s eyes, we shall see its literature dominated by the figures of Wordsworth and Scott, the one regarded as the restorer of life to poetry, the other as the creator or transcriber of a whole world of romance and humanity. [M7] Coleridge stands out prominently as the widest intellect of his age. Byron’s poetry bulks very large, though it is not estimated as superlatively as in the criticism of our own day. It is a pity that Hazlitt never wrote formally of Keats, for his casual allusions indicate a deep enjoyment of the “rich beauties and the dim obscurities” of the “Eve of St. Agnes[97] and an appreciation of the perfection of the great odes.[98] [M8] If he failed to give Shelley his full dues, he did not overlook his exquisite lyrical inspiration. He spoke of Shelley as a man of genius, but “‘all air,’ disdaining the bars and ties of mortal mould;” [M9] he praised him for “single thoughts of great depth and force, single images of rare beauty, detached passages of extreme tenderness,” and he rose to enthusiasm in commending his translations, especially the scenes from Faust.[99] He has been accused of writing a Spirit of the Age which omitted to give an account of Shelley and Keats, but in the title of the book consists his excuse. [M10] As it was not his idea to anticipate the decision of posterity but only to sketch the personalities who were in control of the public attention, he passed over the finer poets who were still neglected, and wrote instead about Campbell and Moore and Crabbe. It is sufficient praise for the critic that those of whom he has undertaken to treat stand irreversibly judged in his pages. He is generous toward Campbell and Moore, who were both personally hostile to him; he is scrupulously honest toward Bentham, with whose system he had no sympathy. [M11] The concluding pages of his sketch of Southey, in view of that poet’s rancor against him, are almost defiant in their magnanimity. His adverse judgments, moreover, are as permanent as his favorable ones. He pronounced the verdict against the naked realism of Crabbe’s poetry, which persons like Jeffrey thought superior to Wordsworth’s, and he pricked the bubble of Edward Irving’s popularity while it was at its pitch of highest glory. [M12] If he was often bitter toward men whom he at other times eulogized, it was in the heat and hurry of journalistic publication in a period when blows were freely dealt and freely taken. [M13] If he sometimes censured even Wordsworth and Scott and grew impatient with Byron and Coleridge, it must be remembered that these men of genius had imperfections, and that the imperfections of men of genius are of far greater concern to their contemporaries than to posterity. [M14] Time dispels the mists and allows the gross matter to settle to the bottom. We now have Wordsworth in the selections of Matthew Arnold, we read the Waverley Novels with Lockhart’s Life of Scott before us, and we render praise to Coleridge for what he has accomplished since his death. With none of these advantages, Hazlitt’s performance seems remarkable enough. No contemporary with the exception of Leigh Hunt displayed as wide a sympathy with the writers of that time, and Hazlitt so far surpasses Hunt in discrimination and strength, that he deserves to be called, strange as it may sound, the best contemporary judge of the literature of his age. [M15]

It has already been suggested that much of Hazlitt’s appeal as a critic rests on the force of his popular eloquence, so that a brief consideration of his prose is not in this connection out of place. “We may all be fine fellows,” said Stevenson, “but none of us can write like Hazlitt.” [M16] To write a style that is easy yet incisive, lively and at the same time substantial, buoyant without being frothy, glittering but with no tinsel frippery, a style combining the virtues of homeliness and picturesqueness, has been given to few mortals. [M17] Writing in a generation in which the standards of prose were conspicuously unsettled, when the most ambitious writers were seeking an escape from the frozen patterns of the eighteenth century in a restoration of the elaborate artifices of the seventeenth, when quaintness and ornateness were the evidence of a distinguished style, Hazlitt succeeded in preserving the note of familiarity without fading into colorlessness or in any degree effacing his individuality. He cannot be counted among the masters of finished prose, he is as a matter of fact often very negligent,[100] but he developed the best model of an undiluted, sturdy, popular style that is to be found in the English language. [M18]

Perhaps an adherence to the eighteenth century tradition of plainness is the most prominent characteristic of Hazlitt’s prose. But his plainness is not precisely of the blunt type associated with Swift and Arbuthnot. It is modified by the Gallic tone of easy familiarity, by the ideal deemed appropriate for dignified converse among educated people of the world. His periods are of the simplest construction and they are not methodically combined in the artificial patterns beloved of the eighteenth century followers of the plain style. Not that he altogether neglects the devices of parallelism and antithesis when he wishes to give epigrammatic point to his remarks, but he more generally develops his ideas in a series of easily flowing sentences which are as near as writing can be to “the tone of lively and sensible conversation.” [M19] It is impossible to match in the English essay such talk as Hazlitt reproduces in his accounts of the evenings at Lamb’s room or of his meeting with Coleridge, in which high themes and spirited eloquence find spontaneous and unaffected expression through the same medium as might be employed in a deliberate definition of the nature of poetry. The various sets of lectures are pitched in the same conversational key and are found adequate to conveying a notion of the grandeur of Milton as well as of the familiarity of Lamb.

Those who have praised Hazlitt’s simplicity have often given the impression that his prose is a single-stringed instrument, and have failed to suggest the range comprised between the simple hammer-strokes of the essay on Cobbett and the magnificent diapason in which he unrolls the panorama of Coleridge’s mind. [M20] In both passages there is the same sentence-norm. In the first, the periods, not bound by any connecting words, strike distinctly, sharply, with staccato abruptness. The movement is that of a clean-limbed wrestler struggling with confident energy to pin down a difficult opponent:

“His principle is repulsion, his nature contradiction: he is made up of mere antipathies; an Ishmaelite indeed, without a fellow. He is always playing at hunt-the-slipper in politics. He turns round upon whoever is next to him. The way to wean him from any opinion, and make him conceive an intolerable hatred against it, would be to place somebody near him who was perpetually dinning it in his ears. When he is in England, he does nothing but abuse the Boroughmongers, and laugh at the whole system: when he is in America, he grows impatient of freedom and a republic. If he had staid there a little longer, he would have become a loyal and a loving subject of his Majesty King George IV. He lampooned the French Revolution when it was hailed as the dawn of liberty by millions: by the time it was brought into almost universal ill-odour by some means or other (partly no doubt by himself) he had turned, with one or two or three others, staunch Bonapartist. He is always of the militant, not of the triumphant party: so far he bears a gallant show of magnanimity; but his gallantry is hardly of the right stamp: it wants principle. For though he is not servile or mercenary, he is the victim of self-will. He must pull down and pull in pieces: it is not in his disposition to do otherwise. It is a pity; for with his great talents he might do great things, if he would go right forward to any useful object, make thorough-stitch work of any question, or join hand and heart with any principle. [M21] He changes his opinions as he does his friends, and much on the same account. He has no comfort in fixed principles: as soon as anything is settled in his own mind, he quarrels with it. He has no satisfaction but in the chase after truth, runs a question down, worries and kills it, then quits it like vermin, and starts some new game, to lead him a new dance, and give him a fresh breathing through bog and brake, with the rabble yelping at his heels and the leaders perpetually at fault.”[101] [M22]

In the other passage the clauses and phrases follow in their natural order, but they are united by the simplest kind of connective device in an undistinguishable stream over which the reader is driven with a steady swell and fall, sometimes made breathlessly rapid by the succession of its uniformly measured word-groups, but delicately modulated here and there to provide restful pauses in the long onward career: [M23]

Next, he was engaged with Hartley’s tribes of mind, ‘etherial braid, thought-woven,’—and he busied himself for a year or two with vibrations and vibratiuncles and the great law of association that binds all things in its mystic chain, and the doctrine of Necessity (the mild teacher of Charity) and the Millennium, anticipative of a life to come—and he plunged deep into the controversy on Matter and Spirit, and, as an escape from Dr. Priestley’s Materialism, where he felt himself imprisoned by the logician’s spell, like Ariel in the cloven pine-tree, he became suddenly enamoured of Bishop Berkeley’s fairy-world, and used in all companies to build the universe, like a brave poetical fiction, of fine words—and he was deep-read in Malebranche, and in Cudworth’s Intellectual System (a huge pile of learning, unwieldly, enormous) and in Lord Brook’s hieroglyphic theories, and in Bishop Butler’s Sermons, and in the Duchess of Newcastle’s fantastic folios, and in Clarke and South and Tillotson, and all the fine thinkers and masculine reasoners of that age—and Leibnitz’s Pre-established Harmony reared its arch above his head, like the rainbow in the cloud, covenanting with the hopes of man—and then he fell plump, ten thousand fathoms down (but his wings saved him harmless) into the hortus siccus of Dissent” etc.[102] [M24]

The same style which glistens and sparkles in describing the fancy of Pope rises to an inspired chant with a clearly defined cadence at the recollection of the past glory of Coleridge:

“He was the first poet I ever knew. His genius at that time had angelic wings, and fed on manna. He talked on for ever; and you wished him to talk on for ever. His thoughts did not seem to come with labour and effort; but as if borne on the gusts of genius, and as if the wings of his imagination lifted him from off his feet. His voice rolled on the ear like the pealing organ, and its sound alone was the music of thought. His mind was clothed with wings; and raised on them, he lifted philosophy to heaven. In his descriptions, you then saw the progress of human happiness and liberty in bright and never-ending succession, like the steps of Jacob’s ladder, with airy shapes ascending and descending, and with the voice of God at the top of the ladder. And shall I, who heard him then, listen to him now? Not I! That spell is broke; that time is gone for ever; that voice is heard no more: but still the recollection comes rushing by with thoughts of long-past years, and rings in my ears with never-dying sound.”[103] [M25]

It would take much space to illustrate all the notes to which Hazlitt’s voice responds—the pithy epigram of the Characteristics, the Chesterfieldian grace in his advice “On the Conduct of Life,” the palpitating movement with which he gives expression to his keen enjoyment of his sensual or intellectual existence, and the subdued solemnity of his reveries which sometimes remind us that he was writing in an age which had rediscovered Sir Thomas Browne. The following sentence proves how accurately he could catch the rhythm of the seventeenth century. “That we should wear out by slow stages, and dwindle at last into nothing, is not wonderful, when even in our prime our strongest impressions leave little trace but for the moment, and we are the creatures of petty circumstance.”[104] [M26] Other passages in the same essay echo this manner only less strikingly:

“Life is indeed a strange gift, and its privileges are most mysterious. [M27] No wonder when it is first granted to us, that our gratitude, our admiration, and our delight, should prevent us from reflecting on our own nothingness, or from thinking it will ever be recalled. Our first and strongest impressions are borrowed from the mighty scene that is opened to us, and we unconsciously transfer its durability as well as its splendour to ourselves. So newly found we cannot think of parting with it yet, or at least put off that consideration sine die. Like a rustic at a fair, we are full of amazement and rapture, and have no thought of going home, or that it will soon be night. We know our existence only by ourselves, and confound our knowledge with the objects of it. We and nature are therefore one. Otherwise the illusion, the ‘feast of reason and the flow of soul,’ to which we are invited, is a mockery and a cruel insult. [M28] We do not go from a play till the last act is ended, and the lights are about to be extinguished. But the fairy face of nature still shines on: shall we be called away before the curtain falls, or ere we have scarce had a glimpse of what is going on? Like children, our step-mother nature holds us up to see the raree-show of the universe, and then, as if we were a burden to her to support, lets us fall down again. Yet what brave sublunary things does not this pageant present, like a ball or fête of the universe!”[105] [M29]

In Hazlitt’s vocabulary there is nothing striking unless it be the scrupulousness with which he avoids the danger of commonplaceness and of pedantry. It is easy to forget that the transparent obviousness of his style was attained only after many years of groping. We may well believe that “there is a research in the choice of a plain, as well as of an ornamental or learned style; and, in fact, a great deal more.”[106] [M30] Though he did not go in pursuit of the word to the extent of some later refiners of style, he had a clear realization that the appropriate word was what chiefly gave vitality to writing.[107] For this reason he constantly denounced Johnsonese with its polysyllabic Latin words which reduced language to abstract generalization. [M31] His own vocabulary is concrete and vivid, and of a purity which makes one wonder how even the Quarterly Review could have ventured to apply to him the epithet “slang-whanger.” [M32]

In spite of all that may be said in honor of the unadorned style of composition, writers have ever found that even in prose ideas are most forcibly conveyed by means of imagery. [M33] Hazlitt, it should be remembered, was an ardent admirer of the picturesque qualities in the prose of Burke, the most brilliant of the eighteenth century. In recalling his first reading of Burke, he tells how he despaired of emulating his felicities. But whether by dint of meditating over Burke or by the native vigor of his fancy, Hazlitt learned to write as boldly and as brilliantly as the great orator. [M34] As a rule his rhetorical passages are not deliberately contrived, in the manner for example of his esteemed contemporary De Quincey. [M35] His tropes and images rise directly out of his subject or his feelings. Instead of dissecting the qualities of a character or a work of art, he translates its tone and its spirit as closely as language will permit. That is why his criticism, like Lamb’s or that of the master of this form, Longinus, is itself first-rate literature, recreating the impression of a masterpiece and sometimes even going beyond it.

Of his picturesque quality examples enough may be found in the present volume, yet one cannot forbear to add a few illustrations at this point. There is his irresistible comparison of Cobbett in his political inconsistency to “a young and lusty bridegroom, that divorces a favorite speculation every morning, and marries a new one every night. He is not wedded to his notions, not he. He has not one Mrs. Cobbett among all his opinions.”[108] [M36] There is a good deal more than mere wit in the analogy between Godwin’s mechanical laboriousness and “an eight-day clock that must be wound up long before it can strike.”[109] [M37] And there is real grandeur in his description of Fame: “Fame is the sound which the stream of high thoughts, carried down to future ages, makes as it flows—deep, distant, murmuring evermore like the waters of the mighty ocean. He who has ears truly touched to this music, is in a manner deaf to the voice of popularity.”[110] [M38] In representing the brilliant hues of Restoration comedy, he allows an even freer play to his fancy:

“In turning over the pages of the best comedies, we are almost transported to another world, and escape from this dull age to one that was all life, and whim, and mirth, and humour. The curtain rises, and a gayer scene presents itself, as on the canvas of Watteau. We are admitted behind the scenes like spectators at court, on a levee or birthday; but it is the court, the gala-day of wit and pleasure, of gallantry and Charles II.! [M39] What an air breathes from the name! what a rustling of silks and waving of plumes! what a sparkling of diamond ear-rings and shoe-buckles! What bright eyes, (Ah, those were Waller’s Sacharissa’s as she passed!) what killing looks and graceful motions! How the faces of the whole ring are dressed in smiles! how the repartee goes round! how wit and folly, elegance and awkward imitation of it, set one another off! Happy, thoughtless age, when kings and nobles led purely ornamental lives; when the utmost stretch of a morning’s study went no farther than the choice of a sword-knot, or the adjustment of a side-curl; when the soul spoke out in all the pleasing eloquence of dress; and beaux and belles, enamoured of themselves in one another’s follies, fluttered like gilded butterflies, in giddy mazes, through the walks of St. James’s Park!”[111]

Sometimes, it is true, he allows his spirits to run away with his judgment, although in such instances the manner is so obviously exaggerated as to suggest deliberate mimicry. His account of the tawdry sentimentality of Moore’s poetry sounds like pure travesty: [M40]

“His verse is like a shower of beauty; a dance of images; a stream of music; or like the spray of the water-fall, tinged by the morning-beam with rosy light. The characteristic distinction of our author’s style is this continuous and incessant flow of voluptuous thoughts and shining allusions. He ought to write with a crystal pen on silver paper. His subject is set off by a dazzling veil of poetic diction, like a wreath of flowers gemmed with innumerous dew-drops, that weep, tremble, and glitter in liquid softness and pearly light, while the song of birds ravishes the ear, and languid odours breathe around, and Aurora opens Heaven’s smiling portals, Peris and nymphs peep through the golden glades, and an Angel’s wing glances over the glossy scene.”[112]

One feature of Hazlitt’s style concerning which much has been said both in praise and in blame is his inveterate use of quotations. His pages, particularly when he is in a contemplative mood, are sown with snatches from the great poets, and the effect generally is of the happiest. [M41] A line of Shakespeare’s or of Wordsworth’s, blending with a vein of high feeling or deep reflection, transfigures the entire passage as if by magic. Sometimes the phrase is merely woven into the general texture of the prose without in any way raising its tone, and on occasion some fine poetic expression is vulgarized by being thrown into very common company. It is vandalism to muster a sonnet of Shakespeare’s into such a service and it in no way enhances the expressiveness of the passage to say, “A flashy pamphlet has been run to a five-and-thirtieth edition, and thus ensured the writer a ‘deathless date’ among political charlatans.”[113] The fact is that quotations were a part of Hazlitt’s vocabulary, which he used with the same freedom as common locutions and with less scrupulous regard for the associations which were gathered about them. [M42] He negligently misquoted or wantonly adapted to his purpose, but the reader is willing to pardon the moments of irritation for the numerous delightful thrills which he has provoked by some happy poetic memory “stealing and giving odor” to a sentiment in itself dignified or elevated.

Hazlitt’s influence as a critic may be inferred from a summary of his opinions. It was not so much through the infusion of a new spirit in literature that he acted on other minds. Though his criticism owes much of its value to the freshness and boldness of his approach, this temperamental virtue was not something which could be imitated by a less gifted writer. Sainte-Beuve indeed seems to recognize Hazlitt as the exponent of the impetuous and inspired vein in criticism—“the kind of inspiration which accompanies and follows those frequent articles dashingly improvised and launched under full steam. One puts himself completely into it: its value is exaggerated for the time being, its importance is measured by its fury, and if this leads to better results, there is no great harm after all.”[114] But though he professed these to be his own feelings as a critic, they were in him so modified by the traditional French moderation and suavity of tone, as well as by a greater precision of method, as to make the resemblance to Hazlitt inconspicuous. It is hard to determine to what extent Hazlitt’s individualism is responsible for the lawless impressionism of some later critics,[115] but it is not to be imputed to him as a sin if, in the course of a century, one of his virtues has become exaggerated into a fault. He has but suffered human destiny.

Hazlitt’s influence has been wide in guiding the taste of readers and in creating or giving currency to a body of opinions on literature which has found acceptance among critics. If the tributes of Schlegel and Heine to Hazlitt’s Shakespearian criticism were insufficient, we have the word of his own countrymen for it that numberless readers were initiated into a proper understanding of Shakespeare by means of his writings.[116] [M43] In our own days Mr. Howells has told us that Hazlitt “helped him to clarify and formulate his opinions of Shakespeare as no one else has yet done.”[117] Critics no less than readers owe him a large debt. Hazlitt had not been writing many years before his fellow-laborers in literature began to recognize and pay homage to his superior insight. His opinions were quoted as having the weight of authority by those who were friendly to him, the writers in the London Magazine or in the Edinburgh Review; they were appropriated without acknowledgement by the hostile contributors to Blackwood’s. [M44]  Many writers deferred to him as respectfully as he himself deferred to Coleridge and Lamb, even though Byron’s respectable friends adjured the noble poet not to dignify Hazlitt in open controversy except by mentioning him as “a certain lecturer.” Leigh Hunt was frequently indebted to him, but generally paid the tribute due. Macaulay sometimes assimilated a passage of Hazlitt’s to the needs of his own earlier essays. In the essay on Milton his balancing of Charles’s political vices against his domestic virtues is strikingly reminiscent of a similar treatment of Southey by the older critic. Personal dislike of Hazlitt, persisting after his death, for a long time prevented a proper respect being paid to his memory without much diminishing the weight of his influence. [M45] The attitude toward him is summed up by a writer whose treatment in general does not err on the side of enthusiasm. Hazlitt, he tells us, is “a writer with whose reputation fashion has hitherto had very little to do—who is even now more read than praised, more imitated than extolled, and whose various productions still interest many who care and know very little about the author.”[118] But this very utterance was on the occasion of the turning of the tide. It was in a review of Hazlitt’s Literary Remains which had been introduced by appreciative essays from the pens of Bulwer-Lytton and Thomas Noon Talfourd, the former not a little patronizing, but Talfourd’s excellent in its discrimination of the strength and weakness of Hazlitt. A few years later came the implied compliment of Horne’s New Spirit of the Age, which would hardly be worth mentioning were it not that Thackeray in reviewing it took occasion to pay an exquisite tribute to Hazlitt.[119] From this time forth he was not wanting in stout champions, though most people still maintained a cautious reserve in their judgments of him. So sound and penetrating a critic as Walter Bagehot became an earnest convert, and in Bagehot’s writings Mr. Birrell has pointed out more than one resemblance to Hazlitt. James Russell Lowell has not been profuse in his expressions of admiration, but he has probably followed Hazlitt’s track more closely than any other important critic. Many of his essays seem to have been composed with a volume of Hazlitt on the desk before him. There is the essay on Pope with its general correspondence of points and occasional startling parallel of phrase. Hazlitt at the end of his lecture on Pope and Dryden remarks that poetry had “declined by successive gradations from the poetry of imagination in the age of Elizabeth to the poetry of fancy in the time of Charles I,” and Lowell repeats this with some amplification. In the same connection he characterizes Shakespeare, Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton in the sharp epigrammatic manner reminding one of Hazlitt. In the concluding pages of the essay on Spenser we are also kept in a reminiscent mood, till Lowell tells us that “to read him is like dreaming awake,” and at once there flashes upon us Hazlitt’s expression that “Spenser is the poet of our waking dreams.” It is through missionary work like this, not altogether conscious and therefore all the more genuine, that his opinions have been diffused through the length and breadth of English and been incorporated into the common stock. [M46]  “Gracious rills from the Hazlitt watershed have flowed in all directions, fertilizing a dry and thirsty land”—is the happily turned phrase of Mr. Birrell. If in our own day there are still persons who, looking upon criticism as a severe science, occasionally sneer at him as a “facile eulogist,”[120] those who regard it rather as a gift have seen in him “the greatest critic that England has yet produced.”[121] [M47] Wherever the golden mean between these two extremes of opinion may lie, there is no doubt that for introducing readers to an appreciation of the great things in English literature, Hazlitt still remains without an equal. [M48]

Footnotes: (by Jacob Zeitlin)

[92] Lowell: Old English Dramatists.

[93] Lecture on the Age of Elizabeth, “On Beaumont and Fletcher,” V, 269.

[94] Conversation of Northcote, VI, 393.

[95] Essays in English Literature, Second Series. 159-161.

[96] There seems to be no reason for doubting Hazlitt’s authorship of the article in the Examiner. See Works, XI, 580.

[97] “William Gifford,” in Spirit of the Age.

[98] Select British Poets. See Works, V, 378.

[99] “Shelley’s Posthumous Poems,” Works, X, 256 ff.

[100] Hazlitt’s syntax is often abbreviated, elliptical, and unregardful of book rules. Constructions like the following are not uncommon in his prose: “As a novelist, his Vicar of Wakefield has charmed all Europe.... As a comic writer, his Tony Lumpkin draws forth new powers from Mr. Liston’s face.” Lectures on the English Poets, “On Swift, Young,” etc., V, 119, 120.

[101] Spirit of the Age, “William Cobbett.”

[102] See pp. 210-213.

[103] “On the Living Poets,” in Lectures on the English Poets, V, 167.

[104] This is the form of the passage as published in the Literary Remains (1836). That Hazlitt did not attain effects like this offhand, is evident from the comparative feebleness of the original sound of the passage in the Monthly Magazine: “That we should thus in a manner outlive ourselves, and dwindle imperceptibly into nothing, is not surprising, when even in our prime the strongest impressions leave so little traces of themselves behind, and the last object is driven out by the succeeding one.” “On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth,” Works, XII, 160.

[105] This passage also shows alterations from the first form. Cf. XII, 152.

[106] Lectures on the English Poets. “On Swift, Young, etc.,” V, 104. See also the paper in Table Talk on “Familiar Style.” [M49]

[107] “I grant this much, that it is in vain to seek for the word we want, or endeavour to get at it second-hand, or as a paraphrase on some other word—it must come of itself, or arise out of an immediate impression or lively intuition of the subject; that is, the proper word must be suggested immediately by the thoughts, but it need not be presented as soon as called for.... Proper expressions rise to the surface from the heat and fermentation of the mind, like bubbles on an agitated stream. It is this which produces a clear and sparkling style.” “On Application to Study,” in Plain Speaker. [M50]

[108] Spirit of the Age. “Mr. Cobbett.”

[109] Ibid., “William Godwin.”

[110] “On the Living Poets,” Lectures on English Poets, V, 144.

[111] Lectures on the Comic Writers, “On Wycherley, Congreve, etc.,” VIII, 70.

[112] Spirit of the Age, “Mr. T. Moore,” IV, 353.

[113] Table Talk, “On Patronage and Puffing.”

[114] “L’espèce d’entrain qui accompagne et suit ces fréquents articles improvisés de verve et lancés à toute vapeur. On s’y met tout entier: on s’en exagère la valeur dans le moment même, on en mesure l’importance au bruit, et si cela mène à mieux faire, il n’y a pas grand mal après tout.” Portraits Contemporains, II, 515.

[115] “‘Range and keenness of appreciation’ do not by themselves give taste, but merely romantic gusto or perceptiveness. In order that gusto may be elevated to taste it needs to be disciplined and selective. To this end it must come under the control of an entirely different order of intuitions, of what I have called the ‘back pull toward the centre.’ The romantic one sidedness that is already so manifest in Hazlitt’s conception of taste has, I maintain, gone to seed in Professor Saintsbury.” Irving Babbitt, in Nation, May 16, 1912.

[116] T. N. Talfourd: Edinburgh Review, Nov., 1820.

[117] My Literary Passions, 120.

[118] Edinburgh Review, January, 1837.

[119] Thackeray’s Works, ed. Trent and Henneman, XXV, 350-51.

[120] Robertson: Essays Toward a Critical Method, 81.

[121] Saintsbury’s History of Criticism and John Davidson’s Sentences and Paragraphs, 113.

This was the last part of Zeitlin's introduction to Hazlitt. What I could have said here I did say yesterday. So I just end this with a link to my notes to the above, in the next Nederlog.


P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.

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

1.  Anthony Komarof Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of 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)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

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:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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