LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
William Hazlitt X
Peter George Patmore, diary entry, 21 May 1822

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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May 21, 1822.—On Sunday, while we (Hazlitt and myself) were with John Hunt,* he (Hazlitt) related two or three nice things about Jeffrey. One was a reply of his to Owen (of New Lanark), who had been relating to him something of a person who, on visiting his (Owen’s) place, seemed disposed chiefly to notice those of his people who were good-looking; on which Owen said, “Now,

* Then confined in Coldbath Fields Prison for a political offence.

my plan is exactly the reverse of this. I notice in particular those to whom nature has not been so bountiful as she has been to the rest.” “Ah,” said Jeffrey, “nature smiles on one, and Owen on the other.”

On another occasion, when Owen was teazing Jeffrey about his system, Jeffrey said, “But Mr. Owen, according to all this that you are telling me, you, who are the founder and inventor of this system, on the supposition of its being capable of working these effects, ought to be the best man in the world. Now, to tell you the truth, I don’t see that you are any better than many other people that I know. And what,” added Jeffrey, “do you think he had the impudence to reply to this? Why, he bade me name the persons to whom I alluded; and when I did so he took exceptions to them, as persons not so good as himself.”

Speaking of Mrs. Siddons and Miss O’Neil, Hazlitt said it was idle to compare them together; for, however excellent Miss O’Neil might be, Mrs. Siddons was above all excellence. He added that he had said this to a party of Scotchmen at Edinburgh, and that
they did not understand what he meant; they did not seem to see that there was anything in what he had said characteristic either of Mrs. Siddons or of himself; and he related the story as being perfectly characteristic of them—that however acute they (the Scotch) may be to a certain point, beyond that they cannot feel or appreciate anything.

Speaking of Walter Scott, he said that when he was in Edinburgh, Jeffrey had offered to introduce him (Hazlitt) to Scott, but that he declined. He said to Jeffrey, “I should be willing to kneel to him, but I could not take him by the hand.” Alluding to Scott’s political opinions and his supposed connexion with the Beacon and Blackwood’s Magazine.

He afterwards said of Walter Scott, “He seems to me to hang over Scottish literature just as Arthur’s Seat hangs over Edinburgh, like a great hulking lion.”*

Dined at ——’s with Hazlitt. He told

* I think he afterwards used this comparison in print.

some capital things of
A——. When A—— was manager of the Italian Opera, the king (George IV.) went one night, accompanied by Lord Hertford, and A—— and Taylor lighted them, as usual, to the royal box. On ascending the stairs Lord Hertford (who was growing very infirm at this time) slipped and hurt himself, and had nearly fallen down, but evidently wished it not to be noticed, and jumped up again, and pretended that nothing had happened. When they reached the royal box, A——, instead of taking this cue, which the marquis had given to all in attendance, addressed him, and “hoped his lordship had not injured himself by the little accident on the stairs?” The marquis, evidently hurt at this notice, replied, “Accident—accident? what accident? What do you mean?”

It was A—— himself who related this story of his own blundering impertinence, but related it purely as an instance of court manners—of the want of gratitude in the marquis for the kind interest that he (A——) had taken in his infirmities. “As if,” said Hazlitt, “it were the place of the manager
of a theatre to see any deficiencies in a marquis!”

He told another story of A—— having taken some people to see Harlow’s copy of the Transfiguration (which Hazlitt described as very bad), and showing it to them as a prodigiously fine thing; but on one of the party (who told the story to Hazlitt) saying that he thought one of the heads, pointing to it, a very bad one, he (A——) replied, “Oh, I don’t mean to say that the heads are good. I’m not praising the Transfiguration. I don’t think anything of that; it is the copy that I speak of as inimitable. Its faults are the faults of the original.”

He related another story of the same person (whom he described as a singular embodiment of self-sufficient impertinence). On entering a room at a friend’s house, where two or three persons were collected round a picture, seemingly intent on admiring it, A—— walked towards the picture, but before he had got half way to it, stopped and looked: “Ay,” said he, “I see—a copy, evidently. I can see that from the cracks in
the varnish.” “Thus,” said
Hazlitt, “throwing out his impertinence before him, as a herald of his approach, and, as is not uncommon with him, pitching upon as a mark of the picture’s youth precisely that which, if it indicated anything, indicated its age.”

Speaking of having just called on Andrews about a volume of Maxims that he was writing, he said Andrews had spoken of his (Hazlitt’s) article about the Fight (between Neate and the Gas Man) in the New Monthly, and seemed to think it was unrivalled in its way. P—— said, jokingly, “You mustn’t reckon too much on his opinion; for it may have a rival before long:” alluding jestingly to one that he (P.) was writing on the same subject. “Why,” he said, “I am not going to write another!”

He had just dined with Haydon, and related one or two things told by him (Haydon) that passed at a dinner at C——’s, where Y——, the tragedian, was present. Speaking of a recent performance of his, which, by his own account, he had got through very indifferently, he said quite seriously, “But, in fact, I have a kind of feverette upon me
now.” He (Y——) afterwards told what he considered as a very interesting story, of his having actually been addressed by name by a perfect stranger, while travelling in the Highlands of Scotland—a fact which he seemed to regard as the summit of human celebrity.*

Speaking of the American character, Hazlitt related a story told him by ——, illustrating their coolness under uncommon circumstances. He was spending an evening with an American family, when a young man was shown into the room. On his entering, the master of the house got up and went to him, saying, “Ah, George, how do you do?” The young man replied that he was very well, and then took his seat among

* Hazlitt afterwards related these two stories of Y—— to Northcote, and has reported (in the Boswell Redivivus) N.’s characteristic commentary on the latter of them. “Good God!” exclaimed N., “did he consider this as a matter of wonder, that, after showing himself as a sign for a number of years, people should know his face? If an artist or an author were recognised in that manner, it might be a proof of celebrity; but as to an actor, a fellow who had stood in the pillory might as well be proud of being pointed at.”

the rest of the persons present. After a little while something was said showing that the young man who had just joined the party was related to the family, and had lately been absent from home. This led to inquiries from the English visitor, and it turned out that the youth was the son of the host, and had just arrived from China, and that this was the first meeting after a separation of ten years!