64 hazlitt also contributed three letters to william Cobbett 's weekly political Register at this time, all scathing critiques of Thomas Malthus 's Essay on the Principle of Population (1798 and later editions). Here he replaced the dense, abstruse manner of his philosophical work with the trenchant prose style that was to be the hallmark of his later essays. Hazlitt's philippic, dismissing Malthus's argument on population limits as sycophantic rhetoric to flatter the rich, since large swathes of uncultivated land lay all round England, has been hailed as "the most substantial, comprehensive, and brilliant of the romantic ripostes to malthus". Zlitt undertook a compilation of parliamentary speeches, published that year as The Eloquence of the British Senate. In the prefaces to the speeches, he began to show a skill he would later develop to perfection, the art of the pithy character sketch. He was able to find more work as a portrait painter as well. 66 In 1808, hazlitt married Sarah Stoddart, a friend of Mary lamb and sister of John Stoddart, a journalist who became editor of The times newspaper in 1814.
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53 Marriage, family, and friends edit On, at a london dinner party held by william Godwin, hazlitt met Charles Lamb and his sister Mary. 54 A mutual sympathy sprang up immediately between William and Charles, and they became fast friends. Their friendship, though sometimes strained by hazlitt's difficult ways, lasted until the end of hazlitt's life. 55 he was fond of Mary as well, and—ironically in view of her intermittent fits of insanity—he considered her the most reasonable woman he had ever met, 56 no small compliment coming from a man whose view of women at times took plan a misogynistic turn. 57 hazlitt frequented the society of the lambs for the next several years, from 1806 often attending their famous "Wednesdays" and later "Thursdays" literary salons. 58 Portrait of Charles Lamb by william hazlitt, 1804 With few commissions for painting, hazlitt seized the opportunity to ready for publication his philosophical treatise, which, according to his son, he had completed by 1803. Godwin intervened to help him find a publisher, and the work, an Essay on the Principles of Human Action: being an Argument in favour of the natural Disinterestedness of the human Mind, was printed in a limited edition of 250 copies by joseph Johnson. Although the treatise he valued above anything else he wrote was never, at least in his own lifetime, recognised for what he believed was its true worth, 60 it brought him attention as one who had a grasp of contemporary philosophy. He therefore was commissioned to abridge and write a preface to a now obscure work of mental philosophy, the light of Nature pursued by Abraham Tucker (originally published in seven volumes from 1765 to 1777 which appeared in 1807 61 and may have had some. 62 Slowly hazlitt began to find enough work to eke out a bare living. His outrage at events then taking place in English politics in reaction to napoleon's wars led to his writing harry and publishing, at his own expense (though he had almost no money a political pamphlet, Free thoughts on Public Affairs (1806 63 an attempt to mediate.
He also happened to catch sight of Napoleon, a man he idolised as the rescuer of the common man from the oppression of royal " Legitimacy ". 48 Back in England, hazlitt again travelled up into the country, having obtained several commissions to paint portraits. One commission again proved fortunate, as it brought him back in touch with Coleridge and Wordsworth, both of whose portraits he painted, as well as one of Coleridge's son Hartley. Hazlitt aimed to create the best pictures he could, whether they flattered their subjects or not, and neither poet was satisfied with his result, though Wordsworth and their mutual friend Robert southey considered his portrait of Coleridge a better likeness than one by the celebrated. 49 Recourse to prostitutes was unexceptional among literary—and other—men of that period, 50 and if hazlitt was to differ from his contemporaries, the difference lay in his unabashed candour about such arrangements. 51 Personally, he was rarely comfortable in middle- and upper-class female society, and, tormented by desires he later branded as "a perpetual clog and dead-weight upon the reason 52 he made an overture to a local woman hibernation while visiting the lake district with Coleridge. He had however grossly misread her intentions and an altercation broke out which led to his precipitous retreat from the town under cover of darkness. This public blunder placed a further strain on his relations with both Coleridge and Wordsworth, which were already fraying for other reasons.
His brother, john, had by now become a successful painter of miniature portraits. So it occurred to william that he might earn a living similarly, review and he began to take lessons from John. 44 hazlitt also visited various picture galleries, and he began to get work doing portraits, painting somewhat in for the style of Rembrandt. 45 In this fashion, he managed to make something of a living for a time, travelling back and forth between London and the country, wherever he could get work. By 1802, his work was considered good enough that a portrait he had recently painted of his father was accepted for exhibition by the royal Academy. 46 Later in 1802, hazlitt was commissioned to travel to paris and copy several works of the Old Masters hanging in the louvre. This was one of the great opportunities of his life. Over a period of three months, he spent long hours rapturously studying the gallery's collections, 47 and hard thinking and close analysis would later inform a considerable body of his art criticism.
Rambling across the countryside, they talked of poetry, philosophy, and the political movements that were shaking up the old order. This unity of spirit was not to last: hazlitt himself would recall disagreeing with Wordsworth on the philosophical underpinnings of his projected poem The recluse, 40 just as he had earlier been amazed that Coleridge could dismiss david Hume, regarded as one of the greatest. 41 Nonetheless, the experience impressed on the young hazlitt, at 20, the sense that not only philosophy, to which he had devoted himself, but also poetry warranted appreciation for what it could teach, and the three-week visit stimulated him to pursue his own thinking and. 42 Coleridge, on his part, using an archery metaphor, later revealed that he had been highly impressed by hazlitt's promise as a thinker: "He sends well-headed and well-feathered Thoughts straight forwards to the mark with a twang of the bow-string." 43 The itinerant painter edit. Although he never abandoned his goal of writing a philosophical treatise on the disinterestedness of the human mind, it had to be put aside indefinitely. Still dependent on his father, he was now obliged to earn his own living. Artistic talent seemed to run in the family on his mother's side and, starting in 1798, he became increasingly fascinated by painting.
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34 poetry, painting and marriage (17981812) edit "First Acquaintance with poets" edit On, hazlitt, in what was to prove a turning point in his life, encountered Coleridge as the latter preached essay at the Unitarian chapel in Shrewsbury. A minister at the time, coleridge had as yet none of the fame that writers would later accrue to him as a poet, critic, and philosopher. Hazlitt, like thomas de quincey and many others afterwards, was swept off his feet by coleridge's dazzlingly erudite eloquence. 35 "I could not have been more delighted if I had heard the music of the spheres he wrote years later in his essay "my first Acquaintance with poets". 36 It was, he added, as if "Poetry and Philosophy had met together.
Truth and Genius had embraced, under the eye and with the sanction of Religion." Long after they had parted ways, hazlitt would speak of Coleridge as "the only person i ever knew who answered to the idea of a man of genius". 37 That hazlitt learned to express his thoughts "in motley imagery or quaint allusion that his understanding "ever found a language to express itself was, he openly acknowledged, something he owed to coleridge. 38 For his part, coleridge showed an interest in the younger man's germinating philosophical ideas, and offered encouragement. In April hazlitt jumped at Coleridge's invitation to visit him at his residence in Nether Stowey, and that same day was taken to call in on William Wordsworth at his house in Alfoxton. 39 Again, hazlitt was enraptured. While he was not immediately struck by wordsworth's appearance, in observing the cast of Wordsworth's eyes as they contemplated a sunset, he reflected, "With what eyes these poets see nature!" given the opportunity to read the lyrical Ballads in manuscript, hazlitt saw that Wordsworth had.
It was in this period also that he came across jean-Jacques rousseau, who became one of the most important influences on the budding philosopher's thinking. He also familiarized himself with the works of Edmund Burke, whose writing style impressed him enormously. 27 hazlitt then set about working out a treatise, in painstaking detail, on the "natural disinterestedness of the human mind". 28 It was hazlitt's intention to disprove the notion that man is naturally selfish (benevolent actions being rationally modified selfishness, ideally made habitual a premise fundamental to much of the moral philosophy of hazlitt's day. 29 The treatise was finally published only in 1805. In the meantime the scope of his reading had broadened and new circumstances had altered the course of his career.
Yet, to the end of his life, he would consider himself a philosopher., hazlitt found new inspiration and encouragement from Joseph Fawcett, a retired clergyman and prominent reformer, whose enormous breadth of taste left the young thinker awestruck. From Fawcett, in the words of biographer Ralph Wardle, he imbibed a love for "good fiction and impassioned writing fawcett being "a man of keen intelligence who did not scorn the products of the imagination or apologize for his tastes". With him, hazlitt not only discussed the radical thinkers of their day, but ranged comprehensively over all kinds of literature, from John Milton 's Paradise lost to laurence Sterne 's Tristram Shandy. This background is important for understanding the breadth and depth of hazlitt's own taste in his later critical writings. 31 Aside from residing with his father as he strove to find his own voice and work out his philosophical ideas, hazlitt also stayed over with his older brother John, who had studied under Joshua reynolds and was following a career as a portrait painter. He also spent evenings with delight in London's theatrical world, 32 an aesthetic experience that would prove, somewhat later, of seminal importance to his mature critical work. In large part, however, hazlitt was then living a decidedly contemplative existence, one somewhat frustrated by his failure to express on paper the thoughts and feelings that were churning within him. 33 It was at this juncture that hazlitt met Samuel taylor Coleridge. This encounter, a life-changing event, was subsequently to exercise a profound influence on his writing career that, in retrospect, hazlitt regarded as greater than any other.
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The belief of many Unitarian thinkers in the natural disinterestedness of the human mind had also laid a foundation for the young hazlitt's own philosophical explorations along those lines. And, though harsh experience and disillusionment later compelled him to qualify some of his early ideas about human nature, he was left with a hatred of tyranny and persecution that he retained to his dying days, 22 as expressed a quarter-century afterward in the retrospective. I cannot sit quietly down under the claims of barefaced power, and I have tried to expose the little arts of sophistry by report which they are defended." 23 The young philosopher edit returning home, around 1795, his thoughts were directed into more secular channels, encompassing. In September 1794, he had met William Godwin, 24 the reformist thinker whose recently published Political Justice had taken English intellectual circles by storm. Hazlitt was never to feel entirely in sympathy with Godwin's philosophy, but it gave him much food for thought. 25 he spent much of his time at home in an intensive study of English, Scottish, and Irish thinkers like john Locke, david Hartley, george berkeley, and david Hume, together with French thinkers like claude Adrien Helvétius, étienne bonnot de condillac, the marquis de condorcet. 26 From degenerative this point onwards, hazlitt's goal was to become a philosopher. His intense studies focused on man as a social and political animal, and, in particular, on the philosophy of mind, a discipline that would later be called psychology.
Priestley, whom hazlitt essay had read and who was also one of his teachers, was an impassioned commentator on political issues of the day. This, along with the turmoil in the wake of the French revolution, sparked in hazlitt and his classmates lively debates on these issues, as they saw their world being transformed around them. 18 Changes were taking place within the young hazlitt as well. While, out of respect for his father, hazlitt never openly broke with his religion, he suffered a loss of faith, and left Hackney before completing his preparation for the ministry. 19 Although hazlitt rejected the Unitarian theology, 20 his time at Hackney left him with much more than religious scepticism. He had read widely and formed habits of independent thought and respect for the truth that would remain with him for life. 21 he had thoroughly absorbed a belief in liberty and the rights of man, and confidence in the idea that the mind was an active force which, by disseminating knowledge in both the sciences and the arts, could reinforce the natural tendency in humanity towards. The school had impressed upon him the importance of the individual's ability, working both alone and within a mutually supportive community, to effect beneficial change by adhering to strongly held principles.
post did not meet with success, although he did exert a certain influence on the founding of the first Unitarian church in Boston. 11 In 178687 the family returned to England and settled in Wem, in Shropshire. Hazlitt would remember little of his years in America, save the taste of barberries. 12 Education edit hazlitt was educated at home and at a local school. At age 13 he had the satisfaction of seeing his writing appear in print for the first time, when the Shrewsbury Chronicle published his letter (July 1791) condemning the riots in Birmingham over Joseph Priestley 's support for the French revolution. 13 In 1793 his father sent him to a unitarian seminary on what was then the outskirts of London, the new College at Hackney (commonly referred to as Hackney college). 14 The schooling he received there, though relatively brief, approximately two years, made a deep and abiding impression on hazlitt. 15 The curriculum at Hackney was very broad, including a grounding in the Greek and Latin classics, mathematics, history, government, science, and, of course, religion. 16 Much of his education there was along traditional lines; however, the tutelage having been strongly influenced by eminent Dissenting thinkers of the day like richard Price and Joseph Priestley, 17 there was also much that was nonconformist.
Also named William hazlitt, hazlitt's father attended the University of Glasgow (where he was taught by Adam Smith 9 receiving a master's degree in 1760. Not entirely satisfied with his Presbyterian faith, he became a unitarian minister in England. In 1764 he became pastor at Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, where in 1766 he married Grace loftus, daughter of a recently deceased ironmonger. Of their many children, only three survived infancy. The first of these, john (later known as a portrait painter was born in 1767 at Marshfield in Gloucestershire, where the reverend William hazlitt had accepted a new pastorate after his marriage. In 1770, the elder hazlitt accepted yet another position and moved with his family to maidstone, kent, where his first and only surviving daughter, margaret (usually known as "Peggy was born that same year. 10 Childhood, education, young philosopher (17781797) lab edit Childhood edit house in Wem, shropshire where the reverend William hazlitt and his family lived between 17 William, the youngest of the surviving hazlitt children, was born in Mitre lane, maidstone, in 1778. In 1780, when he was two, his family began a nomadic lifestyle that was to last several years.
William, hazlitt 's, essay, "my first Acquaintance with poets."
This article is hotel about the English literary critic and essayist. For other persons named hazlitt, see. For other persons named William hazlitt, see. William hazlitt ( 18 September 1830) was an English writer, drama and literary critic, painter, social commentator, and philosopher. He is now considered one of the greatest critics and essayists in the history of the English language, 1 2 placed in the company of, samuel Johnson and, george Orwell. He is also acknowledged as the finest art critic of his age. 5, despite his high standing among historians of literature and art, his work is currently little read and mostly out of print. 6 7, during his lifetime he befriended many people who are now part of the 19th-century literary canon, including, charles and, mary lamb, stendhal, samuel taylor Coleridge, william Wordsworth, and, john keats. Contents 1 Life and works.1 Background.2 Childhood, education, young philosopher (17781797).3 poetry, painting and marriage (17981812).4 journalist, essayist, and, liber Amoris (18121823).5 Return to philosophy, second marriage, and tour of Europe (18231825).6 Return to london, trip to paris, and.