LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. I 1821

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
Book II.—Continued.

Specimens of Mr. Hazlitt’s correspondence—Letters from various persons—Publications of the year.

By some extraordinary casualty a few of the letters addressed to Mr. Hazlitt in one particular year, 1821, have escaped the destruction which has been almost the invariable fate of this class of papers in his case. I could desire that those which we still have were more important, but their scarcity must be my apology for inserting them. I regard them as salvage from the waste-basket.

The first is from New York, and introduces Mr. Greenhow. It also forwards for Mr. Hazlitt’s acceptance a portion of the liver of a departed dramatic celebrity, George Cooke.

“Dear Sir,

“I trust time has not entirely erased my name from the tablet of your memory, and that you will pardon a moment’s intrusion.


Mr. Greenhow, the gentleman who will present this, is a warm admirer of your talents; and finding occasion to brave the world of waters which lie between this vast continent and the emporium of learning and genius, wished an opportunity of seeing you. I have therefore taken the liberty of introducing him, in the hope of double gratification. He is a gentleman of good mind, extensive reading, and well acquainted with the history and all particulars relative to this country. He is, too, a profound lover of the drama; he will be happy to inform you of its state in this country—which with other matter may while (sic) away an hour—and perchance amuse you. Your society and converse will on his part be highly valued. I learn that poor ‘Ogilvie’ has passed that ‘bourne whence no traveller returns’—his troubled spirit now finds rest. In the confidence that you do not think me presuming, and that your literary labour may ever be crowned by a golden harvest, I remain, yours with great respect,

“R. C. Maywood.
“New York, April 29th, 1821.
“W. Hazlitt, Esq., London.

“P.S. I feel assured that any part of so great a being as George Cooke will be esteemed a curiosity, and richly valued. The bearer of this will offer a morsel of the liver of this wondrous man.—R.”

The next which presents itself is a communication from Canterbury, from Mr. Pittman, urging my grand
father to come down to the racket-court there, and try his hand.
Mr. Hazlitt was very attached to rackets and fives, and seems to have been a very fair player:—

[July 16, 1821.]

“In the old palace of King Ethelbert, in the ancient monastery of St. Augustine are—two Racket-Players! who have found the true city of God, the court in respect whereof St. James’s with the approaching ceremony is nought. A massy stone wall of thirteen hundred years’ duration, even as a board placed by the hand of modern art, fair and smooth as Belphœbe’s forehead, forms its point. No holes or crannies throw out the well-directed ball. No jutting rocks or pendent precipices spoil the hit and the temper. All is smooth. Eleven yards from each other are two abutments, round which monks formerly prayed or seemed to pray, and courtiers lied, and seemed to speak the truth. These bound the court, and form delicious side walls; but alas! they terminate abruptly before they have proceeded five yards. Endless, however, is the variety these quicklyending walls occasion. Of chalky foundation, firm, even, and hard is the ground; eighty-six feet in length, ever widening as it recedes from the wall. Close behind the court, but not too close, and down a slight descent, is a large square bowling-green, encompassed by old cloister walls covered with vines and trees, and edged with flowers of all sorts, the rose being one. Immense arches, ivy-covered towers, time mutilated, at magnificent distances—the house itself, like one of those chapels
which we see adjoining cathedrals—all show the real forte of a monk to have been architecture, not divinity. The keep, the straggling abutments, all, all declare that—
The way they still remembered, of King Nine,
Of old Assaracus and Inachus divine.
But nothing gloomy, all cheerful, lively, pleasing, gay,
In spot more delicious, though but feigned,
Long or Joe Davis never played, or Spines
Or Hazlitt vollied.

“The inhabitants are not altogether unworthy of the place. For country people they are excellent. Racket is a great humanizer of the species, and ought to be encouraged.
Tonbridge is decent, Cooper hath a heart,
And Austin ale, the which he will impart
With liberal hand to all who pay.

“They are, in fact, very civil. Our coming has revived the game, stirred up the ashes of a cheerful fire, inspirited the players. Many matches are in embryo, and the coronation is forgotten.

“Many Margate, Ramsgate, and Dover coaches go from the Bricklayers’ Arms at a quarter before eight every morning—and all through Canterbury, to which the fare on the outside is only 14s.

“Do come. You never saw so pretty a place. It beats Netley Abbey, and is older. The court is really admirable, and has the property of drying in two hours after the longest succession of hard rains. Good chalk has no fellow. The only false hops are in the beer,
which is damnable; everything else is fair. Do come, and inquire for ‘John Austin, at The Old Palace;’ he is our landlord, where we have bed and board, and he keeps the court. That ever I should live in a Fives Court! Come, and you will see fine play from

“Yours very truly,
“Thomas Pittman.

“One of the old racket-players here says: ‘Jack Davis was the finest player I ever saw; and, by God, there is nobody can come near him.’

“William Hazlitt, Esq.,
“No. 9, Southampton Buildings,
“Chancery Lane, London.”

Here is a note from Mr. Colburn about ‘Table Talk,’ of which a volume was to come out on June 1st, if possible. That it should, was very important:

“Dear Sir,

“I send herewith all the 2nd vol., except the end of the 16th essay on the ‘Fear of Death.’ We want one essay yet to make out the volume of a tolerable size—which one it is desirable to bring in before the present 16th. Let me beg you will send me presently one of the essays you mentioned as being just ready, otherwise I shall not be able to publish by the 1st June, which is very important.

“Yours truly,
“H. Colburn.”

I follow up with a series of notes from Mr. Baldwin, the publisher, respecting the ‘London Magazine.’

“My dear Sir,

“I must not any longer neglect to avail myself of your kind offer to assist in filling up the chasm, made by the death of our lamented friend,* in the Magazine; and I know not any subject which would be thought more interesting than a continuation of the living authors, nor any pen so fitted for the subject as yours. Pray select any one you may think most fit, and render us your powerful assistance towards making our next number equal to its predecessors.

“In a day or two I shall probably request an interview with (you) on the subject of an editor.

“I am always, my dear Sir,
“Most faithfully yours,
“Robert Baldwin.
“P. N. Row,
“March 5th, 1821.

“William Hazlitt, Esq.,
“9, Southampton Buildings.”

“My dear Sir,

“The portion of your capital article on Mr. Crabbe, which I enclose herewith, will, if inserted as it now stands, place us in a very awkward dilemma. Mr. Croly had communicated some articles during Mr.

* Mr. John Scott.

Scott’s life, which he highly valued, and he is likely now to become a more frequent correspondent. There is also an article prepared on his second part of Paris for the present number, which will not altogether harmonize with your remarks in the paper on Crabbe. All this I should not so much care for, if it were not that the series of ‘Living Authors’ ought to be as from the editor, not from a casual correspondent, and ought not, therefore, to want harmony with other parts of the Magazine.

“Now I think the difficulty may be easily got over by omitting Croly’s name, and contrasting the poetry of Crabbe with that of another school. Almost every line, except the first three or four, may then be retained, and instead of ringing the change on Crabbe and Croly, it will be he and they. Indeed this is done at the bottom of page six. Thus we shall avoid personality, yet hit the mark.

“Wishing to make this article the first of the number, I have given the rest to the compositors, but I do not venture to make myself, or suffer any other person to make the desired alteration.

“I remain, my dear Sir,
“Most faithfully yours,
“Robert Baldwin.
“P. N. Row,
“April 17, 1821.

“William Hazlitt, Esq.”

“P. N. Row, May 9, 1821.
“My dear Sir,

“The arrangement with Messrs. Taylor and Hessey is completed, and Mr. Taylor will take an early opportunity of calling on you, unless you should think proper to look in upon them in a day or two. I sincerely hope that such an arrangement will be made as shall be quite satisfactory to yourself; I am sure it is to their interest that it should be so. I should have much at heart the welfare of the Magazine, even if we had no pecuniary interest remaining; but upon their success depends greatly the sale of a considerable quantity of back stock, and of course we shall do all in our power to promote that success.

“You will have the kindness to send me the article on Pope at your earliest convenience.

“I am, my dear Sir,
“Very faithfully yours,
“Robert Baldwin.
“William Hazlitt, Esq.,
“Southampton Buildings.”

Mr. Hessey’s letter does not divulge what the business was on which Mr. Hazlitt and he were to confer, but it illustrates the obsolete usage of authors going to their booksellers, and discussing matters comfortably over tea and toast:—

“My dear Sir,

Mr. Taylor was all this morning on the point of setting out to call upon you, as he wanted much to have some conversation with you, but a constant succession
of callers-in prevented him. Will yon do us the favour to take your breakfast with us in the morning, between nine and ten, when we shall have a chance of being uninterrupted for an hour or two.

“Believe me, dear Sir,
“Yours very sincerely,
“J. A. Hessey.
“Fleet Street, May 29th.
“W. Hazlitt, Esq.,
“9, Southampton Buildings.”

“My dear Sir,

“The enclosed cheque is made out, deducting the discount (2l. 16s. 6d.), on 70l. If there is any part of that time expired, we shall be your debtors for the difference.

“I am, my dear Sir,
“Yours very truly,
“John Taylor.
“Fleet Street, 23rd July, 1821.
“Wm. Hazlitt, Esq.,
“9 Southampton Buildings.”

Mr. Landseer probably overrated a little Mr. Hazlitt’s influence with the ‘London Magazine,’ when he wrote the note with which I must conclude my specimens:*—

* But I suspect that at one moment there was some arrangement contemplated by which Mr. Hazlitt would have taken the management of the L. M. Several passages in these letters point to this, and can refer to nothing else. But that he ever actually officiated as editor is more than I have been able to learn. Mr. Landseer evidently had reason to suppose his influence there was considerable.

“33, Foley Street, Tuesday evening.
“Dear Sir,

“I wish you would be at the trouble of informing me, by post, if my letters can not appear in your next magazine—that is to say—as soon as you get another from Mr. Baldwin. I have this additional reason for wishing to know soon, that perhaps now, while there are no parliamentary debates, I might be able to get them into a morning paper in case Mr. B. should decline them.

“Yours, dear Sir,
“Very sincerely,
“J. Landseer.
“Mr. Hazlitt,
“9, Southampton Buildings.”

The volume of ‘Table Talk,’ reprinted from the ‘London Magazine,’ with some additions, was published by Mr. Colburn in 1821. The dramatic criticisms, which Mr. Hazlitt had contributed between 1814 and 1817 to the Morning Chronicle and other journals, were at last collected into a volume this year, under the title of ‘A View of the English Stage.’ The last article is a notice of Mr. Kemble’s retirement, June 25, 1817.