LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. XVI 1818

Chap. I 1778-1811
Ch. II: 1791-95
Ch. III 1795-98
Ch. IV 1798
Ch. V 1798
Ch. VI 1792-1803
Ch. VII 1803-05
Ch. VIII 1803-05
Ch. IX
Ch. X 1807
Ch. XI 1808
Ch. XII 1808
Ch. XII 1812
Ch. XIV 1814-15
Ch. XV 1814-17
‣ Ch. XVI 1818
Ch. XVII 1820
Ch. XX 1821
Ch. I 1821
Ch. II 1821-22
Ch. III 1821-22
Ch. IV 1822
Ch. V 1822
Ch. VI 1822
Ch. VII 1822-23
Ch. VIII 1822
Ch. IX 1823
Ch. X 1824
Ch. XI 1825
Ch. XII 1825
Ch. XIII 1825
Ch. XIV 1825
Ch. XV 1825
Ch. XVI 1825-27
Ch. XVII 1826-28
Ch. XVIII 1829-30
Ch. XX
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Return to Lecturing.

Mr. Hazlitt’s connection for a brief period with the Times newspaper had led to an acquaintance between him and the commercial editor of that journal, Lamb’s friend Alsager. At this time Alsager happened to be on the committee of the Surrey Institution,* and on Mr. Hazlitt intimating a sort of desire to resume the lecturing business, Alsager furnished him with a letter of introduction to the management. It was not that my grandfather had any reason to complain of his association with the press, for he continued to write in the Examiner, in the Champion, and in the Scots Magazine; and in January, 1818, he commenced a series of contributions to the ‘Yellow Dwarf,’† a new

* In the Blackfriars Road. It was afterwards worse known as the “Devil’s Pulpit;” and was the place where the notorious Carlile harangued his audiences. He was called, and I believe called himself, the “Devil’s Chaplain.”

† ‘The Yellow Dwarf,’ a “Weekly Miscellany. Price 4d. The first number appeared Jan. 3, 1818, and it lasted till May 23, 1818, extending to 21 numbers.

speculation set on foot by
Mr. John Hunt, who was probably indebted for the suggestion of the title to Wooller’sBlack Dwarf.’ But as a lecturer he took at once higher ground; it was more in keeping with his newly-acquired dignity of ‘Edinburgh’ Reviewer.

Mr. Hazlitt, previously to making use of Mr. Alsager’s introduction, addressed to the authorities at the Institution a formal proposal to deliver a series of eight Lectures on the English Poets, commencing with a general survey of the subject, and embracing all the principal writers and heads of schools. This offer was accepted, subject to the adjustment of certain details; and for these the lecturer was referred to the secretary and literary superintendent, Mr. P. G. Patmore. Upon him Mr. Hazlitt accordingly waited.

He had not written a line of the lectures, he informed Mr. Patmore frankly, but had thought of them; which put Mr. Patmore in some apprehension for the result. He suggested that a portion of the money might be paid in advance; which the secretary promised to do his best to arrange.

Mr. Patmore was not disposed to form a very auspicious estimate of his visitor, of whom he had heard unfavourable accounts; and my grandfather’s manner does not seem to have prepossessed him. He found, however, that he improved on acquaintance. At all events, everything was satisfactorily arranged between the parties, and the day, or rather evening, was fixed on which the ‘Lectures on the English Poets’ were to commence.


On that first evening the lecturer was naturally more shy, nervous, and uneasy even than usual; but he had paid particular attention to his dress, and he looked extremely well. Once or twice his voice failed him, but he contrived to get through his task very creditably on the whole, in spite of a somewhat thin gathering of auditors not too well-behaved. And if Mr. Patmore may be believed, he did all in his power to encourage and stimulate him.

The late Mr. Justice Talfourd was, it appears, present at these lectures; and it fortunately happens that he has left to us some account of what he heard and what he saw. His testimony is very interesting and important.

He says:—

Mr. Hazlitt delivered three courses of lectures at the Surrey Institution, to the matter of which we have repeatedly alluded—on ‘The English Poets;’ on ‘The English Comic Writers,’ and on ‘The Age of Elizabeth’—before audiences with whom he had but ‘an imperfect sympathy.’ They consisted chiefly of Dissenters, who agreed with him in his hatred of Lord Castlereagh, but who ‘loved no plays;’ of Quakers, who approved him as the opponent of slavery and capital punishment, but who ‘heard no music;’ of citizens, devoted to the main chance, who had a hankering after ‘the improvement of the mind,’ but to whom his favourite doctrine of its natural disinterestedness was a riddle; of a few enemies, who came to sneer; and a few friends, who were eager to learn and to admire. The comparative insensibility
of the bulk of his audience to his finest passages sometimes provoked him to awaken their attention by points which broke the train of his discourse, after which he could make himself amends by some abrupt paradox which might set their prejudices on edge, and make them fancy they were shocked. He startled many of them at the onset, by observing that, since Jacob’s Dream, ‘the heavens have gone further off and become astronomical,’—a fine extravagance, which the ladies and gentlemen, who had grown astronomical themselves under the preceding lecturer, felt called on to resent as an attack on their severer studies. When he read a well-known extract from
Cowper, comparing a poor cottager with Voltaire, and had pronounced the line ‘A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew,’ they broke into a joyous shout of self-gratulation, that they were so much wiser than a wicked Frenchman. When he passed by Mrs. Hannah More with observing that ‘she had written a great deal which he had never read,’ a voice gave expression to the general commiseration and surprise, by calling out ‘More pity for you!’ They were confounded at his reading with more emphasis perhaps than discretion, Gay’s epigrammatic lines on Sir Richard Blackmore, in which Scriptural persons are freely hitched into rhyme; but he went doggedly on to the end; and, by his perseverance, baffled those who, if he had acknowledged himself wrong by stopping, would have hissed him without mercy. He once had an edifying advantage over them. He was enumerating the humanities which endeared Dr. Johnson to his mind,
and, at the close of an agreeable catalogue, mentioned, as last and noblest, ‘his carrying the poor victim of disease and dissipation on his back through Fleet Street,’—at which a titter arose from some, who were struck by the picture as ludicrous, and a murmur from others, who deemed the allusion unfit for ears polite. He paused for an instant, and then added in his sturdiest and most impressive manner, ‘an act which realizes the parable of the Good Samaritan,’ at which his moral and delicate hearers shrunk rebuked into deep silence. He was not eloquent in the true sense of the term; for his thoughts were too weighty to be moved along by the shallow stream of feeling which an evening’s excitement can rouse. He wrote all his lectures, and read them as they were written; but his deep voice and earnest manner suited his matter well. He seemed to dig into his subject—and not in vain. In delivering his longer quotations, he had scarcely continuity enough for the versification of
Shakspeare and Milton, ‘with linked sweetness long drawn out;’ but he gave Pope’s brilliant satire and divine compliments, which are usually complete within the couplet, with an elegance and point which the poet himself would have felt as their highest praise.”

Who was there besides Talfourd I cannot hear. Lamb was not. But what Talfourd has recorded is borne out by a passage in Mr. Hazlitt’s writings, where he undoubtedly has his own experience in view:—

“Suppose you are about to give lectures at a public
institution, these friends and well-wishers hope ‘you’ll be turned out’—if you preserve your principles, ‘they are sure you will.’ Is it that your consistency gives them concern? No, but they are uneasy at your gaining a chance of a little popularity—they do not like to see this new feather in your cap; they wish to see it struck out, for the sake of your character.”

“I well remember,” says Mr. Patmore, “after the successful delivery of his first lecture on the ‘Comic Writers’ [‘English Poets’], my walking home with Hazlitt from the institution to his house in Westminster. . . . . I remember he declined my proffered arm at first—which I interpreted as an evidence of his excessive modesty. I pressed it, however, and he then took it—but as if it had been a bar of hot iron—holding it gingerly with the tips of his fingers, much after the fashion in which he used to shake hands with those friends who were inadvertent or absent enough to proffer that ceremony.”*

This course was afterwards published in an octavo volume by Taylor and Hessey (1819). Mr. Patmore states that they gave a handsome sum for the copyright, but he does not tell us what it was. He is, as a rule, mysterious in the wrong place, and tells tales out of school. Two negatives do not make an affirmative in this case.

The lectures were favourably criticised in ‘Blackwood’s Magazine’ by Mr. Patmore, and Mr. Hazlitt was

* The late Mr. Leigh Hunt used to say that shaking my grandfather’s hand was like shaking the fin of a fish!

highly pleased. It enabled him to breathe more freely; it was a slight respite from fighting; and
Mr. Blackwood making a velvet paw was a not disagreeable novelty. I am writing of a transaction in English literature, it should be borne in mind, which took place a generation ago. Mr. Patmore records that his new acquaintance spoke to him of this as the best job he had had to do with yet; and Mr. Patmore apparently considered that it was regarding the matter from a too sordid point of view. What if he had known that Mr. Hazlitt would have preferred infinitely thinking on about those lectures to delivering them first, and then chaffering for them with the booksellers! But thought does not yield drachmae, and there was cry of no corn in Egypt. The thing had to be done, and it was done.

Mr. Patmore had paid Mr. Hazlitt the civility of sending him his article on the lectures for ‘Blackwood’ in MS., before he let it pass from his hands. It was returned to the writer with the following note of thanks:—

“Dear Sir,

“I am very well satisfied with the article, and obliged to you for it. I am afraid the censure is truer than the praise. It will be of great service, if they insert it entire, which, however, I hope.

“Your obliged,
“W. Hazlitt.”

This was the most profitable and satisfactory year he
had yet had. Besides his numerous and steady contributions to the press, there were his lectures, for which he was being paid twice over; and in the ‘
Edinburgh Review’ for December appeared a paper on Walpole’s ‘Letters’ from his pen. The criticism in the ‘Review’ for 1817 on Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria was also his; it has been improperly claimed for Jeffrey.

He had parted with his interest in the ‘Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays’ to Mr. Reynell;* and the second edition of that work brought nothing to him, nor much to anybody else. It was published in a fullsized octavo, like its predecessor, the price ten-and-sixpence.

Among his articles in the ‘Scots Magazine’ was one (in the number for February) ‘On the Question whether Pope was a Poet?’ In the ‘Champion’ for June 16, 1818, he had a criticism on West’s picture of Christ Crucified.

His share in Mr. Hunt’sYellow Dwarf’ was considerable. He wrote for it as many as fifteen articles, among which were those ‘On the Clerical Character,’ ‘On Court Influence,’ ‘On the Regal Character,’ ‘What is the People?’ ‘On the Opera,’ ‘The Fudge Family in Paris,’ and ‘An Examination of Mr. Malthus’s Doctrines.’ Mr. Hazlitt’s copy of the ‘Yellow Dwarf’ is before me; and from his autograph corrections in the

* Of whom the copyright was subsequently repurchased by my father.

Case of Mr. Hone,’ and his well-known interest in that deserving and unfortunate gentleman, I should be disposed, in the absence of any other claimant, to give that to him too. The criticism on ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ is much in his manner. I perceive that he procured the insertion of three extracts from his ‘Lectures on the Poets’ in this ephemeral publication.

The ‘English Poets’ were followed by the ‘Comic Writers’ and the ‘Dramatic Literature of the Age of Elizabeth.’ So that, although Mr. Hazlitt had only thought of the first series when he first saw the secretary of the Institution, it was sufficiently well received and approved of by the committee, to lead to his services being secured for a second and third. The ‘Comic Writers’ form a volume published (also by Taylor and Hessey) in 1819.

Mr. Hazlitt now acceded to Mr. Hone’s proposition for collecting his scattered political writings from the columns of the Morning Chronicle and other journals; and their appearance this year in an octavo volume, under the title of ‘Political Essays,’ showed that here was an incorrigible Jacobin indeed, and that something must be done in good earnest to crush his impertinent and troublesome ambition.

He had dedicated his ‘Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays’ to Lamb; he dedicated his ‘Political Essays’ to Mr. John Hunt, one of the worthiest and most upright of men. But this time the treasure was not in the dedication so much as in the preface, which ran to some
length, and was intended to be a sort of exposition of the writer’s creed and opinions.

“I am no politician,” he starts by saying, “and still less can I be said to be a party-man; but I have a hatred for tyranny, and a contempt for its tools; and this feeling I have expressed as often and as strongly as I could. . . . . The question with me is, whether I and all mankind are born slaves or free. That is the one thing necessary to know and to make good: the rest is “flocci, nauci, nihili, pili.”

It was, of course, not to be expected that a person who could have the boldness to fling such words as these in the teeth of the Tories should be treated like a gentleman; and the ‘Quarterly’ showed a proper sense of the outrage on its friends by a very lavish abuse in its pages of the Lectures on the Poets and the Comic Writers. The pamphlet which had been published in 1806, under the title of ‘Free Thoughts on Public Affairs,’ was certainly one of those which may be regarded as having assisted and encouraged the establishment of the ‘Quarterly Review’ in 1808. We have only to look through the correspondence of the period to understand very clearly that, before it was many years old, the ‘Edinburgh’ had begun to excite apprehensions and animosity among the Tories.

Scott, in a letter to George Ellis, of Nov. 2, 1808, observes: “I had most strongly recommended to our Lord Advocate to think of some counter-measures against the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ which, politically speaking, is doing incalculable damage [!!].” It
seems that there was a fear lest there should be some difficulty in getting contributors; but Sir Walter reassures Mr. Ellis on this score: “Have we not yourself and your cousin,” he puts to him, “
the Roses, Malthus, Matthias, Gifford, Heber, and his brother? Can I not procure you a score of blue-caps, who would rather write for us than for the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ if they got as much pay by it?”* The italics are my own. Mr. Hazlitt ought to have seen this passage; but in truth he did not require anything to add to his contempt for Scott as a politician.

So it happened that, in 1808, John Murray, “a young bookseller of capital and enterprise,” was encouraged to embark in a new speculation, as a counter-measure; and the ‘Quarterly Review’ was started under the editorship of Mr. W. Gifford.

But Southey lets the cat out of the bag completely in a letter to Lieutenant Southey, of November 12, 1808. The italics are mine:—

“A few days ago came a letter from [Grosvenor] Bedford, communicating to me the, as yet secret, intelligence that it is thought expedient to set on foot a review, for the purpose of counteracting the base and cowardly politics of the ‘Edinburgh.’ Walter Scott, it

* See, too, a letter on the subject, too long to quote here, from Rogers to Moore of Jan. 29, 1809; it is printed in Lord Russell’s edition in 8 volumes. Malthus was the author of the ‘Essay on Population;’ Matthias, of the ‘Pursuits of Literature.’ “Heber and his brother” were Reginald Heber, afterwards Bishop of Calcutta, and Richard Heber, Esq., M.P., the great book-collector.

seems, was the suggestor to some of the men in power.
Gifford (the Baviad and Massinger Gifford) is to be editor, and he commissioned Bedford to apply to me. The pay will be as high as the ‘Edinburgh,’ and such political information as is necessary will be communicated from official sources—for, in plain English, the ministers set it up. But they wish it not to wear a party appearance.”

This comes, then, to what Mr. Hazlitt said about the whole thing. Presently, however, that is, after the review had been going on a little while, the same writer, in a letter to his friend May, of May 23, 1809, has to observe:—

“I am afraid, however, that this review is too much under the immediate influence of the ministry. One of the publishers was here last week. He expressed a hope that ‘they would let the Duke of York alone,’ which implied a fear that it was intended to defend him; and he said also that ‘George Ellis’ (who wrote that wretched article about Spain which begins the first number) ‘and some other of its privy council, talked of unmuzzling Gifford,’ that is, of letting him set up the old cry of Jacobinism against all who wish for reform.”

Perhaps, if the ‘Quarterly Review’ had merely taken up in this hostile and cowardly spirit the ‘Round Table,’ Mr. Hazlitt might not have determined to retort; but similar attacks, equally deficient in common sense, common honesty, and common logic, were made on the ‘Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays,’ and on the ‘Lectures
on the English Poets.’ This provoked him into his answer, and a most unanswerable answer it was!

When I have looked at ‘A Letter to William Gifford, Esq., from William Hazlitt, Esq.’* sometimes as a confession of literary and political faith, and as a key to the writer’s motives, I have been tempted to reproduce it entire from his own copy corrected for a second edition; but I shall merely bring forward, here at all events, those passages which have a personal bearing, and illustrate Mr. Hazlitt’s history and publications.

“As an instance,” he says to him, “of the summary manner in which you dispose of any author who is not to your taste, you began your account of the first work of mine you thought proper to notice (the ‘Round Table’) with a paltry and deliberate falsehood. . . . . The charges which you brought against me as the writer of that work, were chiefly these four: 1. That I pretended to have written a work in the manner of the ‘Spectator;’ I answer, this is a falsehood. The advertisement to that work is written expressly to disclaim any such idea, and to apologise for the work having fallen short of the original intention of the projector (Mr. Leigh Hunt), from its execution having devolved almost entirely on me, who had undertaken merely to furnish a set of essays and criticisms, which essays and criticisms were here collected together. 2. That I was not only a professed imitator of Addison, but a great coiner of new words and phrases; I answer, this is also a deliberate and

* 1819, 8vo. The full title and description will be found in the Chronological Catalogue of the Works.

contemptible falsehood. You have filled a paragraph with a catalogue of these new words and phrases, which you attribute to me, and single out as the particular characteristics of my style, not any one of which I have used. This you knew. 3. You say, I write eternally about washerwomen. I answer, no such thing. There is indeed one paper in the ‘Round Table’ on this subject, and I think a very agreeable one. I may say so, for it is not my writing. 4. You say that ‘I praise my own chivalrous eloquence;’ and I answer, that’s a falsehood; and that you knew I had not applied these words to myself, because you knew that it was not I who had used them. [They occurred in an article written by Mr. Leigh Hunt.]

“The last paragraph of the article in question is true; for, as if to obviate the detection of this tissue of little, lying, loyal, catch-penny frauds, it contains a cunning, tacit acknowledgment of them; but says, with equal candour and modesty, that it is not the business of the writer to distinguish (in such trifling cases) between truth and falsehood. That may be; but I cannot think that for the editor of the ‘Quarterly Review’ to want common veracity is any disgrace to me. . . . .

“You do not like the subjects of my essays in general. You complain in particular of ‘my eager vituperation of good-nature and good-natured people;’ and yet with this you have, as I should take it, nought to do; you object to my sweeping abuse of poets as (with the exception of Milton) dishonest men, with which you have
as little to do; you are no poet, and, of course, honest! You do not like my abuse of the Scotch, at which the Irish were delighted, nor my abuse of the Irish, at which the Scotch were not displeased, nor my abuse of the English, which I can understand; but I wonder you should not like my abuse of the French. You say indeed that ‘no abuse which is directed against whole classes of men is of much importance,’ and yet you and your anti-Jacobin friends have been living upon this sort of abuse for the last twenty years. . . . .

“I confess, sir, the ‘Round Table’ did not take. ‘It was caviare to the multitude;’ but the reason, I think, was not that the abuse in it was undeserved, but that I have there spoken the truth of too many persons and things. In writing it, I preferred the true to the agreeable, which I find to be an unpardonable fault. . . . . My object in writing it was to set down such observations as had occurred to me from time to time on different subjects I wished to make a sort of Liber Veritatis, a set of studies from human life. As my object was not to flatter, neither was it to offend or contradict others, but to state my own feelings or opinions such as they really were, but more particularly, of course, where this had not been done before, and where I thought I could throw any new light on a subject. In doing so I endeavoured to fix my attention only on the thing I was writing about, and which had struck me in some particular manner, which I wished to point out to others, with the best reasons or explanations I could give. . . . . I did not try to think with
the multitude, nor to differ with them, but to think for myself. . . . . I wrote to the public with the same sincerity and want of disguise as if I had been making a register of my private thoughts; and this has been construed by some into a breach of decorum. The affectation I have been accused of was merely my sometimes stating a thing in an extreme point of view for fear of not being understood; and my love of paradox may, I think, be accounted for from the necessity of counteracting the obstinacy of prejudice. If I have been led to carry a remark too far, it was because others would not allow it to have any force at all. . . . .

“I wrote, for instance, an ‘Essay on Pedantry,’ to qualify the extreme contempt into which it has fallen, and to show the necessary advantages of an absorption of the whole mind in some favourite study; and I wrote an ‘Essay on the Ignorance of the Learned’ to lessen the undue admiration of learning, and to show that it is not everything. I gained very few converts to either of these opinions. . . . .

“You make no mention of my character of Rousseau, or of the papers on ‘Actors and Acting.’ You also forget my praise of John Buncle.

“As to my style, I thought little about it. I only used the word which seemed to me to signify the idea I wanted to convey, and I did not rest till I had got it. In seeking for truth I sometimes found beauty.

“As to the facility of which you, sir, and others ac-
cuse me, it has not been acquired at once nor without pains. I was eight years in writing eight pages, under circumstances of inconceivable and ridiculous discouragement. As to my figurative and gaudy phraseology, you reproach me with it because you never heard of what I had written in my first dry manner. I afterwards found a popular mode of writing necessary to convey subtle and difficult trains of reasoning. . . . . You in vain endeavour to account for the popularity of some of my writings from the trick of arranging words in a variety of forms without any correspondent ideas, like the newly-invented optical toy. You have not hit upon the secret, nor will you be able to avail yourself of it when I tell you. It is the old story—that I think what I please, and say what I think. . . . .

“It has been my business all my life to get at the truth as well as I could, merely to satisfy my own mind. . . . .

“Early in life I made (what I thought) a metaphysical discovery; and after that it was too late to think of retracting. My pride forbade it; my understanding revolted at it. I could not do better than go on as I had begun. I, too, worshipped at no unhallowed shrine, and served in no mean presence. I had laid my hand on the ark, and could not turn back.”

Leigh Hunt, in a letter to Shelley, 4th August, 1819, says of this:—“Hazlitt has written a masterly character of Gifford, much more coolly done than these things of his in general; and this single circumstance shows what
sort of feelings the poor creature generates. I have noticed him only in passing, truly and unaffectedly feeling too much scorn.” But Mr. Hunt noticed him in a more direct and telling manner afterwards in his ‘
Ultra-crepidarius,’ as though conquering this scorn.

Mr. Gifford is permanently forgotten, and with him I should like to see buried for ever the memory of his controversy (if it may be so called) with my grandfather. On Mr. Gifford’s part it was a malignant, base, and dastardly persecution. My grandfather’s offence was that he was a Reformer; in the eyes of Mr. Gifford and his paymasters, a Reformer was a Jacobin, a cutthroat, a blackguard, anything and everything. The laws of the country just precluded them from burning such horrible persons alive, or beheading them, or throwing them for their remaining days into some pleasant dungeon, but they did the next best thing; they used all their efforts to hunt them down, to torture them out of life.

Mr. Hazlitt himself says:—

“An old friend of mine, when he read the abuse poured out in certain Tory publications, used to congratulate himself upon it as a favourable sign of the times and of the progressive improvement of our manners. Where we now called names we formerly burnt each other at a stake.

“To have all the world against us is trying to a man’s temper and philosophy. It unhinges even our opinion of our own motives and intentions. It is like striking the actual world from under our feet; the void
that is left, the death-like pause, the chilling suspense, is fearful. The growth of an opinion is like the growth of a limb; it receives its actual support and nourishment from the general body of the opinions, feelings, and practice of the world; without that it soon withers, festers, and becomes useless. To what purpose write a good book if it is sure to be pronounced a bad one, even before it is read?”

“When the editor of a respectable morning paper reproached me with having called Mr. Gifford a cat’s paw, I did not tell him that he was a glove upon that cat’s paw. I might have done so.” The expression occurs near the beginning of the letter to Gifford; and for the convenience of those who do not possess the pamphlet, I shall quote the passage:—“You are a little person, but a considerable cat’s paw, and so far worthy of notice. Your clandestine connection with persons high in office constantly influences your opinions, and alone gives importance to them. You are the Government critic, a character nicely differing from that of a Government spy—the invisible link that connects literature with the police.”

The dread of the ‘Quarterly’ and other Tory organs haunted him even in his lodgings. The gentleman on the first floor took in one of these papers, in which something he had written or done was reviled in the usual terms. The landlord being told of it, brings up Mr. Hazlitt’s account, and desires settlement, preferring not to take a note-of-hand in part-payment. Mr. Hazlitt speaks to the daughter of the house, who re-
marks, that “indeed her father has been almost ruined by bills.”

The following letters refer to a 50l. bill, which Mr. John Hunt appears to have accepted, and about which there had been some misunderstanding. Mr. Hunt was then residing at Taunton:—

“Dear Sir,

“I have just received a letter from Henry, in which he states that Messrs. Rees and Eaton have sent to him, threatening immediate legal proceedings against me, unless the 50l. bill be taken up. I have replied to him, desiring him to send them a note, telling them I have written to you on the business; and as they will certainly be paid, I trust they will not think of putting us to any legal expenses. I hope you will be able to satisfy them in some way, as any legal assault on me here, on the ground of debt, would be very unpleasant for various reasons, which you can very well imagine.

“I take it for granted that you are at Winterslow Hut, as Henry says you have left town, so I direct thither.

“You would gratify me much by coming over here. We have a bed at your service, a beautiful country to exercise in, and we would do our best to make you comfortable, not forgetting a total banishment of veal and pork from our table. Our beef and mutton are as good as that in London. You can have my little parlour to write in, which is a snug place for the purpose, being hung round with prints after Raphael,
Titian, Correggio, and Claude, and looking over a piece of grass into a fine orchard, through a latticed window. What more is needful for a tasteful Jacobin? that is, if he be not immoderate in his desires. Come and try how you like it.*

“There are plenty of conveyances from Salisbury to Taunton. My cottage is at Up-Chaddon, nearly three miles north of Taunton, a pleasant walk, on the road to Hestercombe. Any one will direct you to the hamlet, when you reach Taunton. I rather expect Mr. Coulson here in a few days, on his way from Cornwall, but I have heard nothing of him for some time back.

“Ever yours truly,
“John Hunt.”
“Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1819.”

“York Buildings, New Road.
“22nd Sept., 1819.
“Dear Sir,

Nunc scio quid sit majestas. I do not allude to Mrs. Tomlinson,† though she certainly ought to be called Caroline, but to large handwriting,‡ of which I know you are fond. It enables me to write a long letter of three sentences. However, your Brobdingnagians are as pleasant as those at Covent Garden; and

* I collect from a passage in one of the essays of W. H., that he accepted Mr. Hunt’s invitation, and crossed over to Taunton.

† The landlady at York Street, already referred to.

Mr. Hazlitt usually wrote a very large, copper-plate hand, and to this Mr. Hunt alludes jocosely.

so with considerable effort I beget a similar progeny to send my answer by. Your letter dated Saturday I did not receive till yesterday; and to day I saw
Mr. Procter. He tells me that he had written me a letter enclosing the bill, and intrusted it to a friend, who kept it in his pocket for three or four days; upon which he enclosed it in another letter to you, directed to Southampton Buildings. Shall I call there for it? or what else shall I do? all that I can do I will: and your belief of this gives me great refreshment on these rascally occasions, though no more than I desire. I am glad to hear that you have broken the neck of the Elizabethan poets, and wished you could have knocked Lord Burleigh on the head, by the way, in good earnest. As to Winterslow, it is hopeless to me just now, who have a wife just ready to be brought to bed, and literary births of my own without end. But I thank you most heartily for asking me.

“Most sincerely,
“Leigh Hunt.”
“To William Hazlitt, Esq.,
“Winterslow Hut, near Salisbury.”