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BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

The first edition was published in two Svo volumes, the first volume in 1821 with the following title-page : ‘Table-Talk; or, Original Essays. By William Hazlitt. London: John Warren, Old Bond-Street 1821'; the second volume in 1822 with the following title-page : ‘Table-Talk; or, Original Essays. By William Hazlitt. Vol. 11. London : Printed for Henry Colburn and Co. 1822.' Both volumes were printed by Thomas Davison, Whitefriars. The first volume contained the following Advertisement : 'It may be proper to observe, that the Essays “On the Pleasure of Painting” and “On the Ignorance of the Learned," in this Volume, have already appeared in periodical publications. The second volume contained a list of errata.' The second edition appeared in 1824 in two 8vo volumes. The title-page ran as follows : “Table-Talk, or Original Essays on Men and Manners. Second Edition. London : Printed for Henry Colburn, New Burlington Street. 1824.' The volumes were printed by J. Nichols and Son, 25 Parliament Street. This edition, apparently a mere reprint of the first edition, is here reprinted verbatim except that the mistakes referred to in the errata 'of the first edition have been corrected. In 1825 two 8vo volumes appeared in Paris (A. & W. Galignani) entitled, Table-Talk: or Original Essays, By William Hazlitt.' This edition omitted several of the essays included in the English editions of Table-Talk, and included several papers which were afterwards published in England in The Plain Speaker. An Advertisement (see notes to this volume) was prefixed to Vol 1. In the third edition (2 vols. foolscap 8vo 1845) entitled "Table-Talk : Original Essays on Men and Manners. By William Hazlitt. Edited by his Son. London : C. Templeman, 6, Great Portland Street,' some essays were omitted, the order of the essays was altered, and two essays, “On Travelling Abroad' and 'On the Spirit of Controversy,' were added. The fourth edition (1857-1861) is a reprint or a re-issue of the third. In the fifth edition (1 volume 8vo, 1869, Bell & Daldy), edited by Mr. William Carew Hazlitt, the text and arrangement of the first two editions are restored, but the essays are divided into three Series. In a later edition edited by Mr. Hazlitt (1 vol. 8vo Bohn's Library, 1891) the essays are arranged continuously.

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ESSAY XXI. On the Aristocracy of Letters

ESSAY XXII. On Criticism

ESSAY XXIII. On great and little Things .

ESSAY XXIV, On familiar Style

ESSAY XXV. On Effeminacy of Character

ESSAY XXVI. Why distant Objects please

ESSAY XXVII. On Corporate Bodies

ESSAY XXVIII. Whether Actors ought to sit in the Boxes .

ESSAY XXIX. On the Disadvantages of intellectual Superiority

ESSAY XXX. On Patronage and Puffing .

ESSAY XXXI. On the Knowledge of Character

ESSAY XXXII. On the Picturesque and Ideal

ESSAY XXXIII. -- On the Fear of Death

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TABLE TALK

ESSAY I

ON THE PLEASURE OF PAINTING

6

THERE is a pleasure in painting which none but painters know.' In writing, you have to contend with the world ; in painting, you have only to carry on a friendly strife with Nature. You sit down to your task, and are happy. From the moment that

you
take

up

the pencil, and look Nature in the face, you are at peace with your own heart. No angry passions rise to disturb the silent progress of the work, to shake the hand, or dim the brow: no irritable humours are set afloat: you have no absurd opinions to combat, no point to strain, no adversary to crush,

no fool to annoy-you are actuated by fear or favour to no man. There is no juggling here,' no sophistry, no intrigue, no tampering with the evidence, no attempt to make black white, or white black : but you resign yourself into the hands of a greater power, that of Nature, with the simplicity of a child, and the devotion of an enthusiast— study with joy her manner, and with rapture taste her style.' The mind is calm, and full at the same time. The hand and eye are equally employed. In tracing the commonest object, a plant or the stump of a tree, you learn something every moment. You perceive unexpected differences, and discover likenesses where you looked for no such thing. You try to set down what you see—find out your error, and correct it. You need not play tricks, or purposely mistake: with all your pains, you are still far short of the mark. Patience grows out of the endless pursuit, and turns it into a luxury. A streak in a flower, a wrinkle in a leaf, a tinge in a cloud, a stain in an old wall or ruin grey, are seized with avidity as the spolia opima of this sort of mental warfare, and furnish out labour for another half day. The hours pass away untold, without chagrin, and without weariness ; nor would you ever wish to pass them otherwise. Innocence is joined with industry, pleasure with

business ; and the mind is satisfied, though it is not engaged in thinking or in doing any mischief.1

/I have not much pleasure in writing these Essays, or in reading them afterwards ; though I own I now and then meet with a phrase that I like, or a thought that strikes me as a true one. But after I begin them, I am only anxious to get to the end of them, which I am not sure I shall do, for I seldom see my way a page or even a sentence beforehand; and when I have as by a miracle escaped, I trouble myself little more about them. I sometimes have to write them twice over : then it is necessary to read the proof, to prevent mistakes by the printer ; so that by the time they appear in a tangible shape, and one can con them over with a conscious, sidelong glance to the public approbation, they have lost their gloss and relish, and become more tedious than a twice-told tale. For a person to read his own works over with any great delight, he ought first to forget that he ever wrote them. Familiarity naturally breeds contempt. It is, in fact, like poring fondly over a piece of blank paper : from repetition, the words convey no distinct meaning to the mind, are mere idle sounds, except that our vanity claims an interest and property in them. I have more satisfaction in my own thoughts than in dictating them to others : words are necessary to explain the impression of certain things upon me to the reader, but they rather weaken and draw a veil over than strengthen it to myself. However I might say with the poet, . My mind to me a kingdom is,' yet I have little

1 There is a passage in Werter which contains a very pleasing illustration of this doctrine, and is as follows.

About a league from the town is a place called Walheim. It is very agreeably situated on the side of a hill : from one of the paths which leads out of the village, you have a view of the whole country; and there is a good old woman who sells wine, coffee, and tea there : but better than all this are two lime-trees before the church, which spread their branches over a little green, surrounded by barns and cottages. I have seen few places more retired and peaceful. I send for a chair and table from the old woman's, and there I drink my coffee and read Homer. It was by accident that I discovered this place one fine afternoon : all was perfect stillness ; every body was in the fields, except a little boy about four years old, who was sitting on the ground, and holding between his knees a child of about six months ; he pressed it to his bosom with his little arms, which made a sort of great chair for it, and notwithstanding the vivacity which sparkled in his eyes, he sat perfectly still. Quite delighted with the scene, I sat down on a plough opposite, and had great pleasure in drawing this little picture of brotherly tenderness. I added a bit of the hedge, the barn-door, and some broken cart-wheels, without any order, just as they happened to lie ; and in about an hour I found i had made a drawing of great expression and very correct design, without having put in any thing of my own. This confirmed me in the resolution I had made before, only to copy nature for the future. Nature is inexhaustible, and alone forms the greatest masters. Say what you will of rules, they alter the true features, and the natural expression.' Page 15.

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