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recollection of vulgar descriptions, silly paradoxes, flat truisms, misty sophistry, broken English, ill humour and rancorous abuse, when we were first informed of the modest pretensions of our host. Our thoughts then reverted with an eager impulse to the urbanity of Addison, his unassuming tone, and clear simplicity; to the ease and softness of his style, to the cheerful benevolence of his heart. The playful gaiety too, and the tender feelings of his coadjutor, poor Steele, caine forcibly to our memory. The effect of the ludicrous contrast thus presented to us, it would be somewhat difficult to describe. We think that it was akin to what we have felt from the admirable nonchalance with which Liston, in the complex character of a weaver and an ass, seems to throw away all doubt of his being the most accomplished lover in the universe, and receives, as if they were merely his due, the caresses of the fairy Queen.
Amongst the objects which Mr. Hazlitt has thought it worth while, for the good of mankind, to take under his special superintendence, the Manners' of the age have the first place. Nor are we surprized that this topic should have forced itself upon his attention: the circle in which he moves seems to be susceptible of great improvement, if an inference may be drawn from the account which he has given of its principal ornament. He informs us that one of his most pleasant and least tiresome acquaintances is a humourist who has three or four quaint witticisms and proverbial phrases which he always repeats over and over.' He appears also to have experienced some vile treatment from his intimate friends; as he is induced to protest that he cannot help exclaiming against the gross and villainous trick which some people have when they wish to get rid of their company, of letting their fires go down and their candles run to seed.'* That he has sufficient reasons therefore for directing his talents to the amelioration of manners, there can be no doubt:-the next point of importance is to ascertain the particular class of society upon which his habits of life have enabled him to make the most accurate observations, and to the improvement of which his labours are most likely to contribute. We are happy to have it in our power to state, that the objects of his most sedulous care are of the softer sex. It is not indeed the sex in general; but it is a highly interesting and amiable part of it—that, namely, which passes under the denomination of washerwomen.' He professes more than once, with a laudable though unnecessary caution, that he is not used to 'fashionable manners ;'† and in perfect conformity with these protestations, he is sparing, even to
+ V. i. pp. 12. 125.
* Vol. ii. 157.
abstemiousness, of all remarks upon gentlemen or gentlewomen: but, to make amends, when he gets amongst the tub-tumbling viragoes,' as he playfully calls them, he is quite at home:-his familiar acquaintance with all their ways makes him, in his own language,' over redundant;' and he dedicates one of his longest essays to a minute account of their appearance, their habits, and their conversation. To abridge this detail would, indeed, be to do it a gross injustice; the whole of it well deserves to be read, or, at least, that highly finished part of it, which begins with—' How 'drat that Betty'
and ends with Him as has a niece and nevvy as they say eats him out of house and land.'-We shall lay before our readers only one of the author's other pictures of social life, relying upon its being fully sufficient to convince them that this follower of the courtly Addison has opportunities, at least, which his illustrious predecessor' never possessed; and that if he would but tell us all he has seen, we should be secure of obtaining many views of manners which have never yet appeared in print.
Think,' says he,' of a blooming girl who is condemned to open her mouth and shut her eyes, and see what heaven in the shape of a mischievous young fellow will send her!-up walks the aforesaid heaven or mischievous young fellow, (young Ouranos, Hesiod would have called him,) and instead of a piece of paper, a thimble, or a cinder, claps into her mouth a peg of orange, or a long slice of citron.'-v. ii. p. 125.
Let us pass from the subjects of Mr. Hazlitt's thoughts, to the style in which they are disclosed, and we shall find, in the first place, many convincing instances of the perfect success with which the freedom from affectation and paradox, so characteristic of Addison, is imitated by his disciple.
'Spleen is the soul of patriotism and of public good.'-v. ii. 79. 'The definition of a true patriot is a good hater.'-v. ii. 80.
He who speaks two languages has no country.'—v. i. 238.
If the truth were known the most disagreeable people are the most amiable.'-v. ii. 75.
Mr. Hazlitt, we should guess, is not quite disinterested in his endeavours to establish the truth of this last valuable apophthegm: and indeed there are many others of the same kind, in the enunciation of which he seems, clearly, to have been influenced by the benefit which he is likely to derive from them.
Few persons who have read the Spectator have ever afterwards forgotten the delightful papers on the Paradise Lost, or those on the Pleasures of the Imagination. In this department, as in others, Mr. Hazlitt is not willing to fall short of his illustrious predecessor;' and accordingly we hear much of poetry, and of painting,
and of music, and of gusto.* Of Hogarth, we are told that he is too apt to perk morals and sentiments in your face, and is over redundant in his combinations.' Of Titian, that the limbs of his female figures have a luxurious softness and delicacy which appears conscious of the pleasure of the beholder.'t Of Vandyke, that the impression slides off from the eye, and does not, like the tones of Titian's pencil, leave a sting behind it in the mind of the spectator;'-and finally, that the arts of painting and poetry flow from the sacred shrine of our own breasts, and are kindled at the living lamp of Nature.' Addison and Steele never wrote any thing so fine as this!
There is one merit which this author possesses besides that of successful imitation--he is a very eminent creator of words and phrases. Amongst a vast variety which have newly started into life we notice 'firesider,'-kitcheny,'-'to smooth up,'-'to do off,' -and' to tiptoe down.' To this we add a few of the author's newborn phrases, which bear sufficient marks of a kindred origin to intitle them to a place by their side. Such is the assertion that Spenser was dipt in poetic luxury;' the description of a minute coil which clicks in the baking coal;' of a numerousness scattering an individual gusto;' and of 'curls that are ripe with sunshine.'
Our readers are, perhaps, by this time as much acquainted with the style of this author as they have any desire to be; and their curiosity may have been a little excited to know what the man is. It may be told in two words :-he is a sour Jacobin: a fact which he is so good as to disclose in the following pathetic lamentation over the failure of the French Revolution.
'The dawn of that day was overcast: that season of hope is past; it is fled with the other dreams of our youth which we cannot recal, but has left behind it traces which are not to be effaced by birth-day and thanksgiving odes, or the chaunting of Te Deums in all the churches of Christendom. To those hopes eternal regrets are due; to those who maliciously and wilfully blasted them, in the fear that they might be accomplished, we feel no less what we owe, hatred and scorn as lasting!"
As we might expect from this confession of feeling, the waters of bitterness flow around this unhappy person unceasingly. There is nothing in the world which he seems to like, unless we except 'washerwomen;' for whom he does appear to have some regard. He writes an essay in eager vituperation of 'good nature' and good natured people: he abuses all poets, with the single exception of Milton: he, indeed,' was an honest man; he was Cromwell's secretary:'
* Here is one of the many definitions of this luminous writer, which possesses in an eminent degree the essential quality of being clearer than the word defined. Essay 29, 'On Gusto,' begins thus: Gusto, in art, is power or passion defining any object'!" + V. ii. 22.
+ V. ii. 21.
he abuses all country-people: he abuses the English: he abuses the Irish: he abuses the Scotch. Nor is it simply abuse; it is the language of Billingsgate, except that it is infinitely more rancorous than any thing which, we are willing to believe, he can have learnt in that school of natural civility. He seems to feel all the warmth of a private quarrel against whole nations; but against none so strongly as his own. Of poor John Bull his mildest expressions are that ' he is silent because he has nothing to say, and looks stupid because he is so that if he has a red face and round belly he thinks himself a great man:' that he has always been a surly, obstinate, meddlesome fellow' that he is but a dolt-beats his wife-quarrels with his neighbours-damns his servants, and gets drunk to kill the time.' This rival of Pericles, in further eulogy of his countrymen, proceeds to state that 'an Irishman who trusts to his principles, and a Scotchman who trusts to his impulses, are equally dangerous.' Of the Irish he is moreover pleased to discover that they are hypocrites in understanding-that there is something crude and discordant in all they do or say-that they are a wild people—that they betray principles, unite fierceness with levity, have an undercurrent of selfishness and cunning-and that their blood, if not heated by passion, turns to poison.' All this is venomous enough. No abuse, however, which is directed against whole classes of men is of much importance: if undeserved it is utterly impotent and may well be utterly despised; but we shall be excused if stronger feelings have been roused by the foul and vulgar invective which is directed by such a thing as this against individuals who now rest in their graves, but who, in the bright career of their lives, were, perhaps, the chief sources of the glory which has been shed over our country in these latter times. Of Pitt it is said that he possessed 'few talents and fewer virtues;' that his reputation was owing to a negation (together with the common virtues) of the common vices of human nature, and by the complete negation of every other talent but an artful use of words and a certain dexterity of logical arrangement;' that he had 'no strong feelings, no distinct perceptions, no general principles, no comprehensive views of things, no moral habits of thinking, no system of action, no plan, no insight into human nature, no sympathy with the passions of men or apprehension of their real designs,' &c.-vol. ii. p. 164. Of Burke we have the following character:
This man, who was a half poet and a half philosopher, has done more mischief than perhaps any other person in the world. His understanding was not competent to the discovery of any truth, but it was sufficient to palliate a falsehood; his reasons, of little weight in themselves, thrown into the scale of power, were dreadful. Without genius to adorn the beautiful, he had the art to throw a dazzling veil over the
deformed and disgusting; and to strew the flowers of imagination over the rotten carcass of corruption, not to prevent, but to communicate the infection. His jealousy of Rousseau was one chief cause of his opposition to the French Revolution. The writings of the one had changed the institutions of a kingdom; while the speeches of the other, with the intrigues of his whole party, had changed nothing but the turnspit of the King's kitchen. He would have blotted out the broad pure light of Heaven, because it did not first shine in at the little Gothic windows of St. Stephen's Chapel. The genius of Rousseau had levelled the towers of the Bastile with the dust; our zealous reformist, who would rather be doing mischief than nothing, tried, therefore, to patch them up again, by calling that loathsome dungeon the King's castle, and by fulsome adulation of the virtues of a Court strumpet. This man, but enough of him here.'-pp. 82, 83, note.
We are far from intending to write a single word in answer to this loathsome trash; but we confess that these passages chiefly excited us to take the trouble of noticing the work. The author might have described washerwomen for ever; complimented himself unceasingly on his own 'chivalrous eloquence;' prosed interminably about Chaucer; written, if possible, in a more affected, silly, confused, ungrammatical style, and believed, as he now believes, that he was surpassing Addison-we should not have meddled with him; but if the creature, in his endeavours to crawl into the light, must take his way over the tombs of illustrious men, disfiguring the records of their greatness with the slime and filth which marks his track, it is right to point him out that he may be flung back to the situation in which nature designed that he should grovel.
We learn from the Preface that a few of these essays were written by Mr. Hunt, the editor of the Examiner newspaper. We really have not time to discriminate between the productions of the two gentlemen, or to mete out to each his due portion of praise:we beg that they will take the trouble to divide it themselves according to their respective claims. We can only mention here that Mr. Hunt sustains the part of the droll or merry fellow in the performance: it is he who entertains us with the account of his getting the night-mare by eating veal-pye, and who invents for that disorder the facetious name of Mnpvtglnau-auw-auww; who takes the trouble to inform us that he dislikes cats; to describe the skilful spat of the finger nails which he gives his newspaper,' and the mode in which he stirs his fire: it is he who devotes ten or twelve pages to the dissertation on washerwomen,' and who repeats, no doubt from faithful memory, the dialogues which pass between Betty and Molly, the maid-servants, when they are first called in the morning, and describes, from actual observation, (or, it may be, experience,) the conclusive digs in the side' with which Molly is accustomed to dispel the lingering slumbers of her bed-follow.