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the subject that it so beautifully commemorates. We shall now proceed to give some extracts from Mr. Serjeant Talfourd's thoughts upon the intellectual character of the same person. The learned lawyer, equalling Mr. Bulwer in his admiration of the character he comments upon, is, however, more analytical and searching, bestowing his commendation not grudgingly, but with words of caution, and accompanied with much excellent disquisition. Indeed, the reader will not fail to perceive one or two actual discrepancies between the two commentators. Upon the whole, we like Mr. Bulwer's exposition the better, though our faith will cleave the more steadily to that of Mr. Talfourd. Our friends must judge for themselves. Thus pleads the learned serjeant.
“ As an author, Mr. Hazlitt may be contemplated principally in three aspects,-as a moral and political reasoner; as an observer of character and manners; and as a critic in literature and painting. It is in the first character only that he should be followed with caution. His metaphysical and political essays contain rich treasures, sought with years of patient toil, and poured forth with careless prodigality,--materials for thinking, a small part of which wisely employed will enrich him who makes them his own; but the choice is not wholly unattended with perplexity and danger. He had, indeed, as passionate a desire for truth as others have for wealth, or power, or fame. The purpose of his research was always steady and pure, and no temptation from without could induce him to pervert or to conceal the faith that was in him. But, besides that love of truth, that sincerity in pursuing it, and that boldness in telling it, he had earnest aspirations after the Beautiful, a strong sense of pleasure, an intense consciousness of his own individual being, which broke the current of abstract speculation into dazzling eddies, and sometimes turned it astray. The vivid sense of beauty may, indeed, have fit home in the breast of the searcher after truth, but then he must also be endowed with the highest of all human faculties, the great mediatory and interfusing power of imagination, which presides in the mind, brings all its powers and impulses into harmonious action, and becomes itself the single organ of all. At its touch, truth becomes visible in the shapes of beauty ; the fairest of material things appear the living symbols of airy thought; and the mind apprehends the finest affinities of the worlds of sense and of spirit in clear dream and solemn vision.' By its aid the faculties are not only balanced, but multiplied into each other; are pervaded by one feeling, and directed to one issue. But, without it, the inquirer after truth will sometimes be confounded by too intense a yearning after the Grand and the Lovely-not, indeed, by an elegant taste, the indulgence of which is a graceful and harmless recreation amidst severer studies, but by that passionate regard which quickens the pulse, and tingles in the veins, and
hangs upon the beatings of the heart." Such was the power of beauty in Hazlitt's mind, and the interfusing faculty was wanting. The spirit, indeed, was willing, but the flesh was strong; and when these contend, it is not difficult to foretel which will obtain the mastery ; for the power of beauty shall sooner transform honesty into a bawd, than the power of honesty shall transform beauty into its likeness.' How this some-time paradox became exemplified in the writings of one whose purpose was always single, may be traced in the history of his mind, at which it may be well to glance before adverting to the examples.”
Here follows a rapid and spirited sketch of the life of Hazlitt, showing how the external circumstances which surrounded him ope
rated upon his mind, and trained it gradually to that course of thinking so gloriously developed afterwards in his writings, but which we have not sufficient space to recite. Mr. Talfourd sums up thus the effects of his disappointments.
“ Thus was a temperament, always fervid, stung into irregular action; the strong regard to things was matched by as vivid a dislike of persons; and the sense of injury joined with the sense of beauty to disturb the solemn musings of the philosopher and the great hatreds of the patriot.
“ One of the most remarkable effects of the strong sense of the personal on Hazlitt's abstract speculations, is a habit of confounding his own feelings and experiences in relation to a subject with proofs of some theory which bad grown out of them, or had become associated with them. Thus, in his · Essay on the Past and the Future,' he asserts the startling proposition, that the past is, at any given moment, of as much consequence to the individual as the future; that he has no more actual interest in what is to come than in what has gone by, except so far as he may think himself able to avert the future by action; that whether he was put to torture a year ago, or anticipates the rack a year hence, is of no impor. tance if his destiny is so fixed that no effort can alter it ; and this paradox its author chiefly seeks to establish by beautiful instances of what the past, as matter of contemplation, is to thoughtful minds, and in fine glances at his individual history. The principal sophism consists in varying the aspect in which the past and future are viewed :-in one para. graph, regarding them as apart from personal identity and consciousness, as if a being, who was not a child of time,' looked down upon them ; and, in another, speaking in his own person as one who feels the past as well as future in the instant. When he quarrels with a supposed disputant who would rather not have been Claude, because then all would have been over with him, and asserts that it cannot signify when we live, because the value of existence is not altered in the course of centuries, he takes a stand apart from present consciousness and the immediate question—for the desire to have been Claude could only be gratified in the consciousness of having been Claude-which belongs to the present moment, and implies present existence in the party making the choice, though for such a moment he might be willing to die. He strays still wider from the subject when he observes a treatise on the Millennium is dull; but asks who was ever weary of reading the fables of the Golden Age? for both fables essentially belong neither to Past nor Future, and depend for their interest, not on the time to which they are referred, but the vividness with which they are drawn. But supposing the Golden Age and the Millennium to be happy conditions of being—which to our poor, frail, shivering virtue they are not—and the proposal to be made, whether we would remember the first, or enter upon the last, surely we should 'hail the coming on of time,' and prefer having our store of happiness yet to expend, to the knowledge that we had just spent it! When Mr. Hazlitt instances the agitation of criminals before their trial, and their composure after their conviction, as proofs that if a future event is certain, it gives little more disturbance or emotion than if it had already taken place, or were something to happen in another state of being, or to another person,' he gives an example which is perfectly fair, but which every one sees is decisive against his theory. If peace followed when hope was no longer busy ; if the quiet of indifference was the same thing as the stillness of despair; if the palsy of fear did not partially anticipate the stroke of death and whiten the devoted head with premature age; there might be some ground for this sacrifice of the Future at the shrine of the Past ; but the poor wretch who grasps the hand of the chaplain or the under-sheriff's clerk, or a turnkey, or an alderman, in convulsive agony, as his last hold on life, and declares that he is happy, would tell a different tale! It seems strange that so profound a thinker, and so fair a reasoner, as Mr. Hazlitt, should adduce such a proof of such an hypothesis—but the mystery is solved when we regard the mass of persoual feeling he has brought to bear on the subject, and which has made his own view of it unsteady. All this picturesque and affecting retrospection amounts to nothing, or rather tells against the argument, because the store of contemplation which is, will ever be while consciousness remains; nay, must increase even while we reckon it, as the Present glides into the Past and turns another arch over the cave of Memory. This very possession which he would set against the future is the only treasure which with certainty belongs to it, and of which no change of fortune can deprive him ; and, therefore, it is clear that the essayist mistakes a sentiment for a demonstration when he expatiates upon it as proof of such a doctrine. There is nothing affected in the assertion-no desire to startle -no playing with the subject or the reader; for of such intellectual trickeries he was incapable ; but an honest mistake into which the strong power of personal recollection, and the desire to secure it within the last. ing fretwork of a theory, drew him. So, when wearied with the injustice done to his writings by the profligate misrepresentations of the Government Critics, and the slothful acquiescence of the public, and contrasting with it the success of the sturdy players at his favourite game of Fives, which no one could question, he wrote elaborate essays to prove the superiority of physical qualifications to those of intellect-full of happy illustrations and striking instances, and containing one inimitable bit of truth and pathos on the Death of Cavanagh,'- but all beside the mark --proving nothing but that which required no proof-that corporeal strength and beauty are more speedily and more surely appreciated than the products of genius; and leaving the essential differences of the two, of the transitory and the lasting of that which is confined to a few barren spectators, and that which is diffused through the hearts and affections of thousands, and fructifies and expands in generations yet unborn, and connects its author with far distant times, not by cold renown, but by the links of living sympathy- to be exemplified in the very essay which would decry it, and to be nobly vindicated by its author at other times, when he shows, and makes us feel, that 'words are the only things which last for ever.'t So his attacks on the doctrine of utility, which were provoked by the cold extravagancies of some of its supporters, consist of noble and passionate eulogies on the graces, pleasures, and ornaments, of life, which leave the theory itself, with which all these are consistent, precisely where it was. So his Essays on Mr. Owen's View of Society are full of exquisite banter, well-directed against the individual : of unanswerable expositions, of the falsehood of his pretensions to novelty, and of the quackery by which he attempted to render them notorious; of happy satire against the aristocratic and religious patronage which he sought and obtained for schemes which were tolerated by the great because they were believed by them to be impracticable ; but the truth of the principal idea itself remains almost untouched. In these instances the personal has prevailed over the abstract in the mind of the thinker; his else clear intellectual vision has been obscured by the intervention of bis own recollections, loves, resentments, or fancies; and the real outlines of the subject have been overgrown by the exuberant fertility of the region which bordered upon them."
Then follow several exquisite reviews of the works of Mr. Hazlitt,
* “On the Indian Jugglers," and "On the Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority."
On Thought and Action."
which we lament that it is impossible for us to give to the public in our pages. The following, however, must not be omitted.
“Mr. Hazlitt's criticisms on pictures are, as we have been informed by persons competent to judge, and believe, masterly. Of their justice we are unable to form an opinion for ourselves; but we know that they are instinct with earnest devotion to art, and rich with illustrations of its beauties. Accounts of paintings are too often either made up of techni. cal terms, which convey no meaning to the uninitiated, or of florid description of the scenes represented, with scarce an allusion to the skill by which the painter has succeeded in emulating nature; but Hazlitt's early aspirations, and fond endeavours after excellence in the art, preserved him effectually from these errors. He regarded the subject with a perfect love. No gusty passion here ruffled the course of his thoughts : all his irritability was soothed, and all his disappointments forgotten, before the silent miracles of human genius ; and his own vain attempts, fondly remembered, instead of exciting envy of the success of others, heightened his sense of their merit, and his pleasure and pride in accumulating honours on their names. Mr. Hunt says of these essays, that they throw a light on art as from a painted window,'—a sentence which, in its few words, characterizes them all, and leaves nothing to be wished or added.
“In person, Mr. Hazlitt was of the middle size, with a handsome and eager countenance, worn by sickness and thought; and dark hair, which had curled stiffly over the temples, and was only of late years sprinkled with grey. His gait was slouching and awkward, and his dress neglected; but when he began to talk he could not be mistaken for a common man. In the company of persons with whom he was not familiar his bashfulness was painful; but when he became entirely at ease, and entered on a favourite topic, no one's conversation was ever more delightful. He did not talk for effect, to dazzle, or annoy, but with the most simple and honest desire to make his view of the subject entirely apprehended by his hearer. There was sometimes an obvious struggle to do this to his own satisfaction: he seemed labouring to drag his thought to light from its deep lurking place; and, with modest distrust of that power of expression which he had found so late in life, he often betrayed a fear that he had failed to make himself understood, and recurred to the subject again and again, that he might be assured he had succeeded. In argument, he was candid and liberal: there was nothing about him pragmatical or exclusive; he never drove a principle to its utmost possible consequences, but like Locksley, ' allowed for the wind. For some years previous to his death, he observed an entire abstinence from fermented liquors, which he had once quaffed with the proper relish he had for all the good things of this life, but which he courageously resigned when he found the indulgence perilous to his health and faculties. The cheerful. ness with which he made this sacrifice always appeared to us one of the most amiable traits in his character. He had no censure for others, who with the same motives were less wise or less resolute; nor did he think he had earned, by his own constancy, any right to intrude advice which he knew, if wanted, must be unavailing. Nor did he profess to be a convert to the general system of abstinence which was advocated by one of his kindest and stanchest friends : he avowed that he yielded to necessity; and instead of avoiding the sight of that which he could no longer taste, he was seldom so happy as when he sat with friends at their wine, participating the sociality of the time, and renewing his own past enjoyment in that of his companions, without regret and without envy. Like Dr. Johnson, he made himself a poor amends for the loss of wine by drinking tea, not so largely, indeed, as the hero of Boswell, but at least of equal potency-for he might have challenged Mrs. Thrale and all her sex to make stronger tea than his own. In society, as in politics, he was no flincher. He loved to hear the chimes of midnight,' without considering them as a summons to rise. At these seasons, when in his happiest mood, he used to dwell on the conversational powers of his friends, and live over again the delightful hours he had passed with them ; repeat the pregnant puns that one had made; tell over again a story with which another had convulsed the room; or expand in the eloquence of a third ; always best pleased when he could detect some talent which was unregarded by the world, and giving alike, to the celebrated and the unknown, due honour.”
Mr. Talfourd concludes his dissertation thus :
“ It would be beside our purpose to discuss the relative merits of Mr. Hazlitt's publications, to most of which we have alluded in passing ; or to detail the scanty vicissitudes of a literary life. Still less do we feel bound to expose or to defend the personal frailties which fell to his portion. We have endeavoured to trace his intellectual character in the records he has left of himself in his works, as an excitement and a guide to their perusal by those who have yet to know them. The concern of mankind is with this alone. In the case of a profound thinker more than of any other, that which men call evil '—the accident of his conditionis interred with him, while the good he has achieved lives unmingled and entire. The events of Mr. Hazlitt's true life are not his engagement by the Morning Chronicle,' or his transfer of his services to the Times, or his introduction to the Edinburgh Review,' or his contracts or quar. rels with booksellers; but the progress and the development of his understanding as nurtured or swayed by his affections. His warfare was within ;' and its spoils are ours! His thoughts, which wandered thrcugh eternity,' live with us, though the hand which traced them for our benefit is cold. His death, though only at the age of fifty-two, can hardly be deemed untimely. He lived to complete the laborious work in which he sought to embalm his idea of his chosen hero; to see the unhoped for downfall of the legitimate throne which had been raised on the ruins of the empire; and to open, without exhausting, those stores which he had gathered in his youth. If the impress of his power is not left on the sympathies of a people, it has (all he wished) sunk into minds neither unreflecting nor ungrateful.”
The reader will perceive that there is a misgiving in the mind of Mr. Talfourd, as to the pre-eminence of Mr. Hazlitt's reputation as an author. This is the only opinion that he has advanced, from which we dissent. The very boldness of many of Mr. Hazlitt's speculations will be the security of their after popularity. It is with great truth, that, to him may be applied the hackneyed phrase, “ he was in advance of his time.”
That morbid, constitutional irritability, that is almost universally the companion of genius, did not fail to involve Mr. Hazlitt in a few of those trivial misunderstandings, the causes of which, the finest spirits only can understand, and which are often less the signs of weakness than marks of an ultra-nervous refinement. After saying thus much, we will unhesitatingly give the following extract, which is headed in the work, “ Character of Hazlitt, by Charles Lamb, from the letter to Southey.'”