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as bright, it would have availed me nothing, for I am not a governmenttool! I had endeavoured to guide the taste of the English people to the best_old English writers; but I had said that English kings did not reign by right divine, and that His present Majesty was descended from an elector of Hanover in a right line; and no loyal subject would after this look into Webster or Deckar because I had pointed them out. I had done something (more than any one except Schlegel) to vindicate the Characters of Shakespear's Plays from the stigma of French criticism: but our Anti-Jacobin and Anti-Gallican writers soon found out that I had said and written that Frenchmen, Englishmen, men were not slaves by birth-right. This was enough to. damn the work. Such has been the head and front of my offending. While my friend Leigh Hunt was writing the Descent of Liberty, and strewing the march of the allied sovereigns with flowers, I sat by the waters of Babylon and hung my harp upon the willows. I knew all along there was but one alternative — the cause of kings or of mankind. This I foresaw, this I feared ; the world see it now, when it is too late. Therefore I lamented, and would take no comfort when the mighty fell, because we, all men, fell with him, like lightning from heaven, to grovel in the grave of Liberty,
in the stye of Legitimacy! -- Vol. i. pp. 291–293. · For ourselves, we presume that we would not be readily suspected of assisting to denounce any writer, because he was not a government-tool.' If we have any prejudices on the subject, we rather believe that they run the other way, though we own that we have no great admiration for a man who would become the tool of any party. But we firmly believe, that if all the critical journals in the empire were to unite for the purpose of hunting down a particular writer from unworthy motives, they would fail in their object, if that writer had any considerable portion of sterling merit to sustain him with the public. That public, composed as it is of a mass of intelligence, honesty, and patriotism, such as no other country can boast of, would sooner or later reverse the unjust sentence of partial criticism, and amply compensate the injured party by the tribute of its own applause, and by securing to him the admiration of posterity. If the judgment of the literary tribunals has not yet been subverted in favour of Mr. Hazlitt, he must have no just right to complain ; for the public would before this time have come to his assistance, if his ' genius' really possessed all the powers' of which he seems to be so conscious.
Without entering into any of that minute criticism to which the whole of this passage is so openly exposed, we must confess that we have always entertained doubts of the sincerity of those individuals in the cause of liberty, who during his ascendancy hailed the success of Buonaparte, or upon his overthrow deplored his fall. . If Mr. Hazlitt be one of those who • lamented, and would take no comfort when the mighty fell,' he must be contented to stand among the suspected soldiers of the garrison, upon whom, in the hour of peril, no reliance could be placed. We cannot conceive by what process of reasoning it is, that an Englishman can reconcile it to his habits
of politics. more endurable proses
of thinking, to 5 lament' the destruction of the most inexorable enemy which not only this country but the freedom of mankind ever encountered. What is called • legitimacy' may indeed be hostile to the progress of free institutions upon the Continent, but it does not operate to the injury of England'; and circumstances have occurred since the commencement of its reign, which show that it is not altogether beyond the influence of our councils, and, above all, of our living example. But let us pass to other themes. . : ? Mr. Hazlitt, though he proses a great deal upon the fine arts, is, however, more endurable on that subject than upon either literature or politics. A scholar could never have written as he has written of intellectual Sisyphuses always rolling the stone of knowledge up a hill, for the perverse pleasure of rolling it down again.' (Vol. i. p. 36.) If the classic tale may be relied, upon, Sisyphus would have been too happy to let the stone rest upon the top of the bill, if he could only get it there:
• Optat supremo collocare Sisyphus
In monte saxum ; sed vetant leges Jovis.” • We very much agree in the following observations, which we 'select from an essay . On Application to Study.'
There cannot be a greater contradiction to the common prejudice that “ Genius is naturally a truant and a vagabond," than the astonishing and (on this hypothesis) unaccountable number of chef-d'ouvres left behind them by the old masters. The stream of their invention supplies the taste of successive generations like a river : they furnish a hundred galleries, and preclude competition, not more by the excellence than by the number of their performances. Take Raphael and Rubens alone. There are works of. theirs - in single collections enough to occupy a long and laborious life, and yet their works are spread through all the collections of Europe. They seem to have cost them no more labour than if they “ had drawn in their breath, and puffed it forth again.” But we know that they made drawings, studies, sketches of all the principal of these, with the care and caution of the merest tyros in the art, and they remain equal proofs of their, capacity and diligence. The * Cartoons of Raphael alone might have employed many years, and made a life of illustrious labour, though they look as if they had been struck off at a blow, and are not a tenth part of what he produced in his short but bright career. Titian and Michael Angelo, lived longer, but they worked as hard and did as well. Shall we bring in competition with examples like these some trashy caricaturist or idle dauber, who has no sense of the infinite resources of nature or art, nor consequently any power to employ himself upon them for any length of time or to any purpose, to prove that genius and regular industry are incompatible qualities?
• In my opinion, the very superiority of the works of the great painters (instead of being a bar to) accounts for their multiplicity. Power is pleasure; and pleasure sweetens pain. A fine poet thus dem -scribes the effect of the sight of nature on his mind : ..
•“ The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood; . Their colours and their forms were then to me . : An appetite, a feeling, and a love, :
That had no need of a remoter charm i By thought supplied, or any interest .::. Unborrowed from the eye.” So the forms of nature, or the human form divine, stood before the great artists of old, nor required any other stimulus to lead the eye to survey, or the hand to embody them, than the pleasure derived from the inspiration of the subject, and “ propulsive force” of the mimic creation. The grandeur of their works was an argument with them, not to stop short, but to proceed. They could have no higher excitement or satisfaction than in the exercise of their art and endless generation of truth and beauty. Success prompts to exertion; and habit facilitates' success. It is idle to suppose we can exhaust nature; and the more we employ our own faculties, the more we strengthen them and enrich our stores of observation and invention. The more, we do, the more we can do. Ņot indeed if we get our ideas out of our own heads — that stock is soon exhausted, and we recur to tiresome, vapid imitations of ourselves. But this is the difference between real and mock talent, between genius and affectation. Nature is not limited, nor does it become effete, like our conceit and vanity. The closer we examine it, the more it refines upon us; it expands as we enlarge and shift our view; it “ grows with our growth, and strengthens with our strength.” The subjects are endless; and our capacity is invigorated as it is called out by occasion and necessity. He who does nothing, renders himself incapable of doing any thing; but while we are executing any work, we are preparing and qualifying ourselves to undertake another.'—Vol. i. pp.136—139.
The subject is, upon the whole well treated, and it is one of general importance; but we undertake to say that the ideas which are spread by Mr. Hazlitt, in his usual diffuse style, over twenty pages, might be easily compressed within five. The composition would thus be improved, and the reader spared a great deal of unnecessary trouble. Mr. Hazlitt dedicates an essay to Envy,' of the character of which some notion may be formed from the specimens which we have already given of the author's personal dispositions. It is in the form of a dialogue, and contains a mass of ungenerous attacks upon literary and public men, which, however, no person of taste will have the patience to read. It is the condition attached to mean and unworthy topics, that they degrade the mind of him who handles them to their own level. His composition is fitted to his theme – grovelling, vapid, à miserable exhibition of the serpent without the sting.
From the opinion which we have expressed of the general character of these volumes, it will not be expected that we should make further extracts from them. We are inclined, however, to admit an exception in favour of the essay upon Madame Pasta, and Made moiselle Mars. Those who have seen Pasta will think with us that her powers are by no means overrated.
withoum the oplolumes, it. We are on Madame will
Mademoiselle Mars has greater elegance, perhaps, and precision of style than Madame Pasta, but not half her boldness or grace. In short, every thing she does is voluntary, instead of being spontaneous. It seems. as if she might be acting from marginal directions to her part. When not speaking, she stands in general quite still. When she speaks, she extends first one hand and then the other, in a way that you can foresee every time she does so, or in which a machine might be elaborately constructed to develope different successive movements. When she enters, she advances in a straight line from the other end to the middle of the stage with the slight unvarying trip of her countrywomen, and then stops short, as if under the drill of a fugal-man. When she speaks, she articulates with perfect clearness and propriety, but it is the facility of a singer executing a difficult passage. The case is that of habit, not of nature. Whatever she does, is right in the intention, and she takes care not to carry it too far; but she appears to say beforehand, “ This I will do, I must not do that.” Her acting is an inimitable study or consummate rehearsal of the part as a preparatory performance : she hardly yet appears to have assumed the character ; something more is wanting, and that something you find in Madame Pasta. If Mademoiselle Mars has to smile, a slight and evanescent expression of pleasure passes across the surface of her face; twinkles in her eyelids, dimples her chin, compresses her lips, and plays on each feature: when Madame Pasta smiles, a beam of joy seems to have struck upon her heart, and to irradiate her countenance. Her whole face is bathed and melted in expression, instead of its glancing from particular points. When she speaks, it is in music. When she moves, it is without thinking whether she is graceful or not. When she weeps, it is a fountain of tears, not a few trickling drops, that glitter and vanish the instant after. The French themselves admire Madame Pasta's acting, (who indeed can help it?) but they go away thinking how much one of her simple movements would be improved by their extravagant gesticulations, and that her noble, natural expression would be the better for having twenty airs of mincing affectation added to it. In her Nina there is a listless vacancy, an awkward grace, a want of bienseance, that is like a child or a changeling, and that no French actress would venture upon for a moment, lest she should be suspected of a want of esprit or of bon mien. A French actress always plays before the court; she is always in the presence of an audience, with whom she first settles her personal pretensions by a significant hint or side-glance, and then as much nature and simplicity as you please. Poor Madame Pasta thinks no more of the audience than Nina herself would, if she could be observed by stealth, or than the fawn that wounded comes to drink, or the flower that droops in the sun or wags its sweet head in the gale. She gives herself entirely up to the impression of the part, loses her power over herself, is led away by her feelings either to an expression of stupor or of artless joy, borrows beauty from deformity, charms unconsciously, and is transformed into the very being she represents. She does not act the character - she is it, looks it, breathes it. She'does not study for an effect, but strives to possess berself of the feeling which should dictate what she is to do, and which gives birth to the proper degree of grace, dignity, ease, or force. She makes, no point all the way through, but her whole style and manner is in perfect' keeping, as if she were really a love-sick, care-crazed maiden, occupied with one deep sorrow, and who had no other idea or interest in the world. This alone is true nature and true art. The rest is sophistical; and French art is not free from the imputation : it never places an implicit faith in nature, but always mixes up a certain portion of art, that is, of consciousness and affectation with it.' – Vol. ii. pp. 311-314. .
. . · If Mr. Hazlitt wrote a little more frequently in this style, and upon subjects such as this, he would find little reason to complain of the apathy of the public towards him, or of the severity of the critics. But he loves too much “ to fish in troubled water." We have but to turn over two or three essays further on of a very different description, until we arrive at the last and the most objectionable of the whole, On the Spleen of Party. There is, indeed, no surfeiting on gall,' if Mr. Hazlitt's example may be deemed a sufficient authority. We shall not disgust our readers by any extracts from this wild and unsparing effusion of egotism, and shall only say, in the words of the author, that having got to the end of the volume, we hope never to look into it again.
Art. II. The Last of the Mohicans ; a Narrative of 1757. By the
Author of “ The Spy,” “ The Pilot,” « The Pioneers," &c. 3 Vols.
12mo. 11. ls. John Miller. 1826. THE “ American novels” have rapidly been acquiring a character quite as distinctive of its kind as that which our great northern magician has created for the narrative fiction of his country, Doubtless, but for the example of the author of Waverley, we should never have heard of the American historical tale; and nothing would be more absurd than to imagine any equality of inventive genius, between the gifted spirit who has originated the most delightful class of modern romance, and the most successful of his imitators on either side of the Atlantic. But very considerable praise is still due to more than one of the American novelists for the tact and good judgment which have led them to borrow no more than the rules of their art, and to apply them to the fabrication of materials which were their own proper and incontestible possession. It is their particular merit to have seen, that the neglected records of their early colonial and of their later national history abounded in a wild and unusual cast of romance; and that by their hands alone could these be wrought up and blended appropriately with the colouring of native habits, costume, and scenery. All this they have assumed for a sufficient fund of curiosity and interest; and it constitutes also a sufficient, as it is their only, title to originality. They have boldy undertaken to sketch the manners and characters of their ancestors, but a generation or two removed, either as colonists contending in desperation for property and life against the encroaching Frenchman and the