1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hazlitt

Anonymous, in Review of The Round Table; Scots Magazine 79 (February 1817) 127-28.



Mr. Hazlitt has a style entirely his own, which it is not very easy to characterize. Originality is one of its most distinguishing features; a rare quality in these days; especially coming, as it appears to do here, without the smallest effort. Equally remarkable is his facility; his thoughts seem to issue, almost without a volition, from an overflowing fountain within. In his manner there is a singular combination of that of the oldest English writers with the gayest tone of modern conversation; and yet these opposite elements are blended so intimately, as to form quite a harmonious whole. Mr. Hazlitt generalizes much; but neither cautiously nor surely; his general conclusions are as often wrong as right; his forte is intuition. The great pleasure in reading his works, is, that however beaten the subject may be, whatever loads of commonplace may have been accumulated over it, we are always assured of finding in Mr. Hazlitt something totally different from what we ever met with in any other writer.