1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hazlitt

Anonymous, in "The Augustan Age in England" The Album 1 (1822) 230.



In speaking of contemporary prose-works, we cannot omit Mr. HAZLITT'S criticisms. We rate them very highly. They display the most intense enjoyment of poetical beauty, and the warmest admiration of intellectual power. In these writings there is no place for that love of paradox which runs away with him in his Essays on general subjects: — though, when this blemish does not appear, we must admit that the Essays also are delightful compositions. Mr. Hazlitt is a most subtle thinker — a most acute and logical reasoner. He often starts from false premises, but his deductions are always justly drawn. In the Lectures, however, his paradoxical turn of thought can find, as we have said, no place. His comments on Shakspeare are unworthy of their subject; they are poetical and enthusiastic. His writings on poetry and literature in general are marked with the utmost taste and discrimination; and we may notice that his praises are always more warm than his condemnations are severe. He has a most happy peculiarity of phrase, which has the power of setting before you a whole train of thought by the felicitous imagery of a single word. We know no works which we should so willingly put into a foreigner's hand, to give him a due opinion of our literature, as Mr. Hazlitt's.