1833 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hazlitt

Allan Cunningham, in "Biographical and Critical History of the Literature of the last Fifty Years" The Athenaeum (28 December 1833) 893.



WILLIAM HAZLITT was a singular mixture of sagacity of remark and oddity of opinion: he knew much: he was a skilful judge in art; his taste in literature was undoubted; and he saw through the varnish into the solid wood of all that he turned his eyes upon. His passion for singularity was injurious to his fame; his party spirit embroiled him with men who commanded engines powerful enough to crush him; and a certain indiscreet way of uttering his sentiments shocked many who gave the tone to opinion. The consequence was, Hazlitt was underrated, and considered by many as a lover of paradox, and a man who could only utter odd and remarkable things. Yet he could go at once into the true beauties of a poem, as a bee goes to the honey of a flower. He had imagination and sensibility.