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WHEN I first became acquainted with the writings of William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt-now above thirty years ago-I was at once forcibly struck with the tone of their criticism on books and authors; not to speak of their merits as theatrical and art-critics, and essayists on life and manners. Their literary criticism appeared to me to be more appreciative, more original and suggestive-and to show more insight into, and sympathy with, the spirit of the writers reviewed, than any that I had previously read. It was distinguished from that of the recognised authorities in this department of literature by its greater warmth, geniality, and acuteness, and by a discrimination and heartiness of treatment not to be found in the pages of previous critics. It had also an additional charm for me, in the personal recollections and associations with which it was often interwoven. I could not be blind to the faults of temper and offences against good taste which occasionally mar the beauties of these two critics; but their cordiality, or what may be called "heart-recognition," as distinguished from mere intellectual or "head-appreciation," of the beauties of our great writers, amply atoned for any blemishes and defects. The perusal and re-perusal of their volumes brought benefits for which I have never ceased to be grateful. It stimulated in me an ardent desire to become acquainted with the authors about whose works they discoursed with so much sympathy and loving

enthusiasm-Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespere, and the Elizabethan dramatists; the great prose writers who succeeded them; the poets, wits, and play-writers of the latter half of the seventeenth century; the essayists and novelists of the days of Anne and the first two Georges; and the new school of poetry and thought which followed upon the first French Revolution. The leisure at my command in those days was but scanty, and did not enable me to profit so much as I could have wished by the valuable guidance afforded me in the works of these critics. But spare hours were economised and made the most of. Nulla dies sine lined. In this way, new and unexpected sources of enjoyment were opened to me as, year by year, I became more intimate with the authors criticised. I also read with avidity everything which was published relating to the genius and characteristics of these two writers and their works. Gradually I became possessor of all the writings of Hazlitt and Hunt, and was in the habit of lending them to friends with tastes similar to my own. As their entire works comprise more than eighty volumes (Hazlitt's numbering between thirty and forty, and Hunt's above fifty)-some of them long out of print, and difficult to be met with-it often occurred to me to make a chronological list of them, indicating the contents of each, with the view of printing it for my own use and that of my friends.

The appearance, last year, of Mr. Procter's (Barry Cornwall) pleasing "Memoir of Charles Lamb" again brought before the public the names of William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt, as two of the intimate friends and companions of "Elia." My longcherished desire to print a list of their works was revived; but now it included not merely the contents of each work, but also a selection of contemporary opinions regarding their authors. In thinking of the numerous sources from which these opinions might be gathered, I recalled many beautiful tributes to their memory and genius by distinguished contemporaries and friends. Some of these were so remarkable for their just appreciation, acuteness, and generous feeling, that I considered it would be doing a service to exhume them from the news

papers and magazines in which most of them lay buried. There were also scattered about through scores of volumes, scarcely ever opened by the most adventurous reader, many special contemporary notices of the various works themselves, which were worthy of being rescued from oblivion. In bringing these materials together, I found them to be more abundant than I expected. When I made known my project to one or two literary friends, they were pleased to say, that to readers and admirers of Hazlitt and Hunt, my proposed list of their works might be found very useful. I was advised not to limit my design to a few copies struck off for private circulation, but to print a small edition which might at least be procurable by those who wished to possess it. This suggestion has been

acted upon.

The writings of William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt deserve to be much better known than they are by the present generation. Many readers are entirely ignorant of their existence; or, if they have perchance heard of the names of these authors, they imagine them to have been merely ephemeral litterateurs, whose works did not possess sufficient merit to preserve them from oblivion. Had Hazlitt and Hunt been literary critics and essayists only, and not also political writers with earnest convictions, there can be little doubt that their merits would have long since been widely recognised and acknowledged, and their position in the field of letters much more established and conspicuous than it now is. Owing to their strenuous advocacy of political views totally opposed to those of the dominant party of the day-their resolute independence, and uncompromising out-spokenness-they were assailed by the two leading organs of the Tory press with a ferocity and unscrupulous malignity almost incredible to the present generation. As they had wilfully placed themselves "in collision from the first with all the interests that were in the sunshine of this world, and with all the persons that were then powerful in England," the intrinsic merits of their literary productions were entirely ignored—or, rather, the appearance of these productions furnished occasion to the editors of the organs

in question to pour out upon their authors the vilest abuse, and to hold up them and their works to public odium and disgust. The object and effect of this "literary ruffianism" were undoubtedly to disparage these writers, and prevent the public from reading their works, and judging for itself. The critical verdicts of the periodicals referred to had great weight in those days, and were accepted by the great majority of the reading public as infallible. These unworthy and shameless attacks limited the circulation of the works against which they were directed to a comparatively small circle, and are quite sufficient to account for the tardy recognition of their merits by the public. Such were the lengths to which party feeling was allowed to go in those days (1815 to 1830), and such the degradation to which men of culture and ability could stoop in order to carry out the objects of political animosity! In order to bear me out in what has been said on this subject, and to justify the strong expressions used, a few pages have been devoted to a selection of passages from these malignant attacks, so that the reader can judge for himself whether, in my characterization of them, I am chargeable with exaggeration. They stand, I believe, unparalleled in the annals of criticism, for their gross violation of the laws and decencies of literary warfare. These passages ought to be preserved, were it only as literary curiosities, and as showing the kind of weapons which were at one time resorted to in this country against political antagonists by writers calling themselves gentlemen. They will be found at pp. 77 and 227.

Before taking leave of this subject, I cannot refrain from reprinting the following passages from an admirable article on "Leigh Hunt," which appeared, several years ago, in the North British Review, from the pen, it is understood, of Mr. Gerald Massey,—an article which does honour to the writer's head and heart :


"We have no wish to rake up forgotten quarrels. since we believe that Leigh Hunt's admirable genius is far less generally appreciated than that of any other writer of his own age and of equal mark, we are bound to say that we trace his

exclusion from his rightful place in the estimation of his contemporaries, mainly to the implacable pertinacity of abuse with which his political opponents assailed him; nor does it seem to us at all unlikely that the same cause should continue to operate, though in a different way, even in the minds of the present generation.

"Leigh Hunt was so long and so shamefully misrepresented, that people came almost of necessity to share in the antipathy, who had no share whatever in the original dissensions which gave rise to it. To the great body of the public his name was made familiar only in connection with accents of contempt, and indignation, and reproach. And even when, under the gentle influence of time, people who had heard. nothing of him but slander, came to think somewhat better of the man, it would have been strange if the old prejudice had not retained vitality enough to make them undervalue the writings.

"It was nothing to revile his opinions, his writings, his public conduct. Every weapon of controversy was directed against these, the bitterest sarcasm-the broadest ridicule— the fiercest abuse-the most reckless misrepresentation. But his assailants never dreamed of restricting themselves within such limits as these. No ground was too sacred: his private life, his dearest relationships, his very person and habits, were made subjects of attack; and under the wildest misconception with regard to them all. This beautiful poet, the exquisite critic and essayist, this most amiable, accomplished, and highminded man, was denounced to our fathers in the most influential publications of their day, not merely as an ignorant democrat, who was for pulling down everything that other men revered-not merely as an irreligious and bad writerbut as the most hateful, contemptible, nay, loathsome of men."

Happily the style of criticism thus referred to is gone by, let us hope never to return. Party spirit does not now prevent the genius and literary merits of political antagonists from being fairly discussed and justly appreciated. Impartial criticism now takes the place of scurrility and abuse. While these sheets were passing through the press, the Quarterly Review, in an excellent article on "Charles Lamb and some of his Companions," has given utterance to many just and beautiful remarks on the merits of the two writers whom it formerly

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