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have endeavoured to copy. The retired naturalist was too full of facts and observations to have room for sentimental writing, yet in sentences like the following (however humble be the theme), we may trace no common power of picturesque painting :
The evening proceedings and manoeuvres of the rooks are curious and amusing in the autumn. Just before dusk they return in long strings from the foraging of the day, and rendezvous by thousands over Selborne-down, where they wheel round in the air, and sport and dive in a playful manner, all the while exerting their voices, and making a loud cawing, which, being blended and softened by the distance that we at the village are below them, becomes a confused noise or chiding; or rather a pleasing murmur, very engaging to the imagination, and not unlike the cry of a pack of hounds in hollow echoing woods, or the rushing of the wind in tall trees, or the tumbling of the tide upon a pebbly shore. When this ceremony is over, with the last gleam of day they retire for the night to the deep beechen woods of Tisted and Ropley. We remember a little girl, who, as she was going to bed, used to remark on such an occurrence, in the true spirit of physico-theology, that the rooks were saying their prayers; and yet this child was much too young to be aware that the Scriptures have said of the Deity-that he feedeth the ravens who call upon him.'
The migration of the swallows, the instincts of animals, the blossoming of flowers and plants, and the humblest phenomena of ever-changing nature, are recorded by Gilbert White in the same earnest and unassuming manner.
REV. WILLIAM GILPIN-SIR UVEDALE PRICE.
Among works on the subject of taste and beauty, in which philosophical analysis and metaphysics are happily blended with the graces of refined thought and composition, a high place must be assigned to the writings of the REV. WILLIAM GILPIN (1724-1804) and SIR UVEDALE PRICE. The former was author of Remarks on Forest Scenery, and Observations on Picturesque Beauty, as connected with the English lakes and the Scottish Highlands. As vicar of Boldre, in the New Forest, Hampshire, Mr Gilpin was familiar with the characteristics of forest scenery, and his work on this subject (1791) is equally pleasing and profound-a storehouse of images and illustrations of external nature, remarkable for their fidelity and beauty, and an analysis patient and comprehensive, with no feature of the chilling metaphysics of the schools.' His Remarks on Forest Scenery' consist of a description of the various kinds of trees. It is no exaggerated praise,' he says, to call a tree the grandest and most beautiful of all the productions of the earth. In the former of these epithets nothing contends with it, for we consider rocks and mountains as part of the arth itself. And though among inferior plants, shrubs, and flowers, there is great beauty, yet when we consider that these minuter productions are chiefly beautiful as individuals, and are not adapted to form the arrangement of composition in landscape, nor to receive the effect of light and shade, they must give place in point of beauty-of picturesque beauty at least-to the form, and foliage, and ramification of the tree. Thus the splendid tints of the insect, however beautiful, must yield to the elegance and proportion of animals which range in a higher class." Having described trees as individuals, he considers them under their various combinations, as clumps, park scenery, the copse, glen, grove, the forest, &c. Their permanent and incidental beauties in storm and sunshine, and through
all the seasons, are afterwards delineated in the choicest language, and with frequent illustration from the kindred pages of the poets; and the work concludes with an account of the English forests and their accompaniments-lawns, heaths, forest distances, and sea-coast views; with their proper appendages, as wild horses, deer, eagles, and other picturesque inhabitants. As a specimen of Gilpin's manner (though a very inadequate one), we subjoin his account of the effects of the sun, an illustrious family of tints,' as fertile sources of incidental beauty among the woods of the forest :
[Sunrise and Sunset in the Woods.]
The first dawn of day exhibits a beautiful obscurity. When the east begins just to brighten with the reflections only of effulgence, a pleasing progressive light, dubious and amusing, is thrown over the face of things. A single ray is able to assist the picturesque eye, which by such slender aid creates a thousand imaginary forms, if the scene be unknown, and as the light steals gradually on, is amused by correcting its vague ideas by the real objects. What in the confusion of twilight perhaps seemed a stretch of rising ground, broken into various parts, becomes now vast masses of wood and an extent of forest.
As the sun begins to appear above the horizon, another change takes place. What was before only form, being now enlightened, begins to receive effect. This effect depends on two circumstances-the catching lights which touch the summits of every object, and the mistiness in which the rising orb is commonly enveloped.
The effect is often pleasing when the sun rises in unsullied brightness, diffusing its ruddy light over the upper parts of objects, which is contrasted by the deeper shadows below; yet the effect is then only transcendent when he rises accompanied by a train of vapours in a misty atmosphere. Among lakes and mountains this happy accompaniment often forms the most astonishing visions, and yet in the forest it is nearly as great. With what delightful effect do we sometimes see the sun's disk just appear above a woody hill, or, in Shakspeare's language,
Stand tiptoe on the misty mountain's top,
and dart his diverging rays through the rising vapour. The radiance, catching the tops of the trees as they hang midway upon the shaggy steep, and touching here and there a few other prominent objects, imperceptibly mixes its ruddy tint with the surrounding mists, setting on fire, as it were, their upper parts, while their lower skirts are lost in a dark mass of varied confusion, in which trees, and ground, and radiance, and obscurity are all blended together. When the eye is fortunate enough to catch the glowing instant (for it is always a vanishing scene), it furnishes an idea worth treasuring among the choicest appearances of nature. Mistiness alone, we have observed, occasions a confusion in objects which is often picturesque; but the glory of the vision depends on the glowing lights which are mingled with it.
Landscape painters, in general, pay too little attention to the discriminations of morning and evening. We are often at a loss to distinguish in pictures the rising from the setting sun, though their characters are very different both in the lights and shadows. The ruddy lights, indeed, of the evening are more easily distinguished, but it is not perhaps always sufficiently observed that the shadows of the evening are much less opaque than those of the morning. They may be brightened perhaps by the numberless rays floating in the atmosphere, which are incessantly reverberated in every direction, and may continue in action after the sun is set; whereas in the morning the rays of the
preceding day having subsided, no object receives any light but from the immediate lustre of the sun. Whatever becomes of the theory, the fact I believe is well ascertained.
The incidental beauties which the meridian sun exhibits are much fewer than those of the rising sun. In summer, when he rides high at noon, and sheds his perpendicular ray, all is illumination; there is no shadow to balance such a glare of light, no contrast to oppose it. The judicious artist, therefore, rarely represents his objects under a vertical sun. And yet no species of landscape bears it so well as the scenes of the forest. The tuftings of the trees, the recesses among them, and the lighter foliage hanging over the darker, may all have an effect under a meridian sun. I speak chiefly, however, of the internal scenes of the forest, which bear such total brightness better than any other, as in them there is generally a natural gloom to balance it. The light obstructed by close intervening trees will rarely predominate; hence the effect is often fine. A strong sunshine striking a wood through some fortunate chasm, and reposing on the tuftings of a clump, just removed from the eye, and strengthened by the deep shadows of the trees behind, appears to great advantage; especially if some noble tree, standing on the foreground in deep shadow, flings athwart the sky its dark branches, here and there illumined with a splendid touch of light.
In an open country, the most fortunate circumstance that attends a meridian sun is cloudy weather, which occasions partial lights. Then it is that the distant forest scene is spread with lengthened gleams, while the other parts of the landscape are in shadow; the tuftings of trees are particularly adapted to catch this effect with advantage; there is a richness in them from the strong opposition of light and shade, which is wonderfully fine. A distant forest thus illumined wants only a foreground to make it highly picturesque. As the sun descends, the effect of its illumination becomes stronger. It is a doubt whether the rising or the setting sun is more picturesque. The great beauty of both depends on the contrast between splendour and obscurity. But this contrast is produced by these different incidents in different ways. The grandest effects of the rising sun are produced by the vapours which envelope it-the setting sun rests its glory on the gloom which often accompanies its parting rays. A depth of shadow hanging over the eastern hemisphere gives the beams of the setting sun such powerful effect, that although in fact they are by no means equal to the splendour of a meridian sun, yet through force of contrast they appear superior. A distant forest scene under this brightened gloom is particularly rich, and glows with double splendour. The verdure of the summer leaf, and the varied tints of the autumnal one, are all lighted up with the most resplendent colours.
The internal parts of the forest are not so happily disposed to catch the effects of a setting sun. The meridian ray, we have seen, may dart through the openings at the top, and produce a picture, but the flanks of the forest are generally too well guarded against its horizontal beams. Sometimes a recess fronting the west may receive a beautiful light, spreading in a lengthened gleam amidst the gloom of the woods which surround it; but this can only be had in the outskirts of the forest. Sometimes also we find in its internal parts, though hardly in its deep recesses, splendid lights here and there catching the foliage, which though in nature generally too scattered to produce an effect, yet, if judiciously collected, may be beautiful on canvass.
We sometimes also see in a woody scene coruscations like a bright star, occasioned by a sunbeam darting through an eyelet hole among the leaves.
Many painters, and especially Rubens, have been fond of introducing this radiant spot in their landscapes. But in painting, it is one of those trifles which produces no effect, nor can this radiance be given. In poetry, indeed, it may produce a pleasing image. Shakspeare hath introduced it beautifully, where, speaking of the force of truth entering a guilty conscience, he compares it to the sun, which
Fires the proud tops of the eastern pines, And darts his light through every guilty hole.
It is one of those circumstances which poetry may offer to the imagination, but the pencil cannot well produce to the eye.
The Essays on the Picturesque, by Sir Uvedale Price, were designed by their accomplished author to explain and enforce the reasons for studying the ciples of their art, with a view to the improvement works of eminent landscape painters, and the prinof real scenery, and to promote the cultivation of what has been termed landscape gardening. He examined the leading features of modern gardening, in its more extended sense, on the general principles of painting, and showed how much the character of the picturesque has been neglected, or sacrificed to a false idea of beauty. The best edition of these essays, improved by the author, is that of 1810; but Sir Thomas Dick Lauder has published editions of both Gilpin and Price-the latter a very handsome volume, 1842-with a great deal of additional matter. Besides his Essays on the Picturesque,' Sir Uvedale has written essays on artificial water, on house decorations, architecture, and buildingsall branches of his original subject, and treated with the same taste and elegance. The theory of the author is, that the picturesque in nature has a character separate from the sublime and the beautiful; and in enforcing and maintaining this, he attacked the style of ornamental gardening which Mason the poet had recommended, and Kent and Brown, the great landscape improvers, had reduced to practice. Some of Price's positions have been overturned by Dugald Stewart in his Philosophical Essays; but the exquisite beauty of his descriptions must ever render his work interesting, independently altogether of its metaphysical or philosophical distinc tions. His criticism of painters and paintings is equally able and discriminating; and by his works we consider Sir Uvedale Price has been highly instrumental in diffusing those just sentiments on matters of taste, and that improved style of landscape gardening, which so eminently distinguish the English aristocracy of the present times.
WILLIAM COBBETT (1762-1835), by his Rural Rides, his Cottage Economy, his works on America, and various parts of his Political Register, is justly. entitled to be remembered among the miscellaneous writers of England. He was a native of Farnham in Surrey, and brought up as an agricultural la bourer. He afterwards served as a soldier in british America, and rose to be sergeant-major. He first attracted notice as a political writer by publishing a series of pamphlets under the name of Peter Porcupine. He was then a decided loyalist and high churchman; but having, as is supposed, received some slight from Mr Pitt, he attacked his ministry with great bitterness in his Register. After the passing of the Reform Bill, he was returned to parliament for the borough of Oldham, but he was not successful as a public speaker. He was apparently destitute of the faculty of generalising his information and details, and evolving from them
a lucid whole. His unfixedness of principle also operated strongly against him; for no man who is not considered honest and sincere, or can be relied upon, will ever make a lasting impression on a popular assembly. Cobbett's inconsistency as a political writer was so broad and undisguised, as to have become proverbial. He had made the whole round of politics, from ultra-toryism to ultra-radicalism, and had praised and abused nearly every public man and measure for thirty years. Jeremy Bentham said of him, ' He is a man filled with odium humani generis. His malevolence and lying are beyond anything.' The retired philosopher did not make sufficient allowance for Cobbett: the latter acted on the momentary feeling or impulse, and never calculated the consequence to himself or others. We admit he was eager to escape when a difficulty arose, and did not scruple as to the means; but we are considering him only as a public writer. No individual in Britain was better known than Cobbett, down to the minutest circumstance in his character, habits, and opinions. He wrote freely of himself, as he did of other men; and in all his writings there was much natural freshness, liveliness, and vigour. He had the power of making every one who read him feel and understand completely what he himself felt and described. The idiomatic strength, copiousness, and purity of his style have been universally acknowledged; and when engaged in describing rural subjects, or depicting local manners, he is very happy. On questions of politics or criticism he fails, because he seems resolved to attack all great names and established opinions. He remarks on one occasion that anybody could, at the time he wrote, be made a baronet, since Walter Scott and Dudley Coutts Trotter (what a classification!) had been so elevated. It has become,' he says, of late years the fashion to extol the virtues of potatoes, as it has been to admire the writings of Milton and Shakspeare;' and he concludes a ludicrous criticism on Paradise Lost by wondering how it could have been tolerated by a people amongst whom astronomy, navigation, and chemistry are understood! Yet Cobbett had a taste for what may be termed the poetry of nature. He is loud in his praises of the singing-birds of England (which he missed so much in America), and he loved to write on green lanes and meadows. The following description of his boyish scenes and recollections is like the simple and touching passages in Richardson's Pamela :
After living within a few hundreds of yards of Westminster Hall, and the Abbey Church, and the Bridge, and looking from my own windows into St James's Park, all other buildings and spots appear mean and insignificant. I went to-day to see the house I formerly occupied. How small! It is always thus: the words large and small are carried about with us in our minds, and we forget real dimensions. The idea, such as it was received, remains during our absence from the object. When I returned to England in 1800, after an absence from the country parts of it of sixteen years, the trees, the hedges, even the parks and woods, seemed so small! It made me laugh to hear little gutters, that I could jump over, called rivers! The Thames was but a creek!" But when, in about a month after my arrival in London, I went to Farnham, the place of my birth, what was my surprise! Everything was become so pitifully small! I had to cross, in my postchaise, the long and dreary heath of Bagshot. Then, at the end of it, to mount a hill called Hungry Hill; and from that hill I knew that I should look down into the beautiful and fertile vale of Farnham. My heart fluttered with impatience, mixed with a sort of fear,
to see all the scenes of my childhood; for I had learned before the death of my father and mother. There is a hill not far from the town called Crooksbury Hill, which rises up out of a flat in the form of a cone, and is planted with Scotch fir-trees. Here I used to take the eggs and young ones of crows and magpies. This hill was a famous object in the neighbourhood. It served as the superlative degree of height. 'As high as Crooksbury Hill,' meant, with us, the utmost degree of height. Therefore the first object that my eyes sought was this hill. I could not believe my eyes! Literally speaking, I for a moment thought the famous hill removed, and a little heap put in its stead; for I had seen in New Brunswick a single rock, or hill of solid rock, ten times as big, and four or five times as high! The post-boy, going down hill, and not a bad road, whisked me in a few minutes to the Bush Inn, from the garden of which I could see the prodigious sand-hill where I had begun my gardening works. What a nothing! But now came rushing into my mind all at once my pretty little garden, my little blue smock-frock, my little nailed shoes, my pretty pigeons that I used to feed out of my hands, the last kind words and tears of my gentle and tender-hearted and affectionate mother! I hastened back into the room. If I had looked a moment longer I should have dropped. When I came to reflect, what a change! I looked down at my dress. What a change! What scenes I had gone through! How altered my state! I had dined the day before at a secretary of state's in company with Mr Pitt, and had been waited upon by men in gaudy liveries! I had had nobody to assist me in the world. No teachers of any sort. Nobody to shelter me from the consequence of bad, and no one to counsel me to good behaviour. I felt proud. The distinctions of rank, birth, and wealth, all became nothing in my eyes; and from that moment (less than a month after my arrival in England) I resolved never to bend before
There is good sense and right feeling in the following paragraph on field sports:
Taking it for granted, then, that sportsmen are as good as other folks on the score of humanity, the sports of the field, like everything else done in the fields, tend to produce or preserve health. I prefer them to all other pastime, because they produce early rising; because they have no tendency to lead young men into vicious habits. It is where men congregate that the vices haunt. A hunter or a he is less likely to be fond of the two latter if he be shooter may also be a gambler and a drinker; but fond of the former. Boys will take to something in the way of pastime; and it is better that they take to that which is innocent, healthy, and manly, than that which is vicious, unhealthy, and effeminate. Besides, the scenes of rural sport are necessarily at a distance from cities and towns. This is another
great consideration; for though great talents are wanted to be employed in the hives of men, they are very rarely acquired in these hives; the surrounding objects are too numerous, too near the eye, too frequently under it, and too artificial.
The miscellaneous writings of MR SOUTHEY are numerous, and all are marked by an easy flowing style, by extensive reading, a strain of thought and reflection simple and antiquated, occasional dialogues full of quaint speculation and curious erudition, and a vein of poetical feeling that runs through the whole, whether critical, historical, or political. In 1807 Mr Southey published a series of observations on our national manners and prospects, en
titled Letters from England, by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, three volumes. The foreign disguise was too thinly and lightly worn to insure concealment, but it imparted freedom and piquancy to the author's observations. On the subject of the church, on political economy, and on manufactures, Mr Southey seems to have thought then in much the same spirit displayed in his late works. His fancy, however, was more sportive, and his Spanish character, as well as the nature of the work, led to frequent and copious description, in which he excelled.
individual. A young Chinese seems to me an ante diluvian man renewed. Even Englishmen, though not bred in any knowledge of such institutions, cannot but shudder at the mystic sublimity of castes that have flowed apart, and refused to mix, through such immemorial tracts of time; nor can any man fail to be awed by the names of the Ganges or the Euphrates. It contributes much to these feelings, that Southern Asia is, and has been for thousands of years, the part of the earth most swarming with human life; the great officina gentium. Man is a weed in those regions. In 1829 Mr Southey published Colloquies on the The vast empires, also, into which the enormous popu Progress and Prospects of Society, two volumes, in lation of Asia has always been cast, give a further which the author, or Montesinos,' holds conversa- sublimity to the feelings associated with all Oriental tions with the ghost of Sir Thomas More! The names or images. In China, over and above what it decay of national piety, the evil effects of extended has in common with the rest of Southern Asia, I am commerce, and the alleged progress of national in- terrified by the modes of life, by the manners, and security and disorganization, are the chief topics in the barrier of utter abhorrence and want of sympathy these colloquies, which, though occasionally relieved placed between us by feelings deeper than I can by passages of beautiful composition, are diffuse and analyse. I could sooner live with lunatics or brute tedious, and greatly overstrained in sentiment. The animals. All this, and much more than I can say, other prose works of Mr Southey (exclusive of a or have time to say, the reader must enter into before vast number of essays in the Quarterly Review, he can comprehend the unimaginable horror which and omitting his historical and biographical works these dreams of Oriental imagery and mythological Under the connecting already noticed) consist of his early Letters from tortures impressed upon me. Spain; A Short Residence in Portugal; Omniana, a feeling of tropical heat and vertical sunlights I collection of critical remarks and curious quota-brought together all creatures, birds, beasts, reptiles, tions; and The Doctor, five volumes, a work partly all trees and plants, usages and appearances, that are fictitious, but abounding in admirable description to be found in all tropical regions, and assembled and quaint fanciful delineation of character. them together in China or Indostan. From kindred feelings I soon brought Egypt and all her gods under the same law. I was stared at, hooted at, grinned at, chattered at, by monkeys, by paroquets, by cockatoos. I ran into pagodas; and was fixed for centuries at the summit, or in secret rooms; I was the idol; I was the priest; I was worshipped; I was sacrificed. I fled from the wrath of Brahma through all the forests of Asia; Vishnu hated me; Seeva laid wait for me. I came suddenly upon Isis and Osiris; I had done a deed, they said, which the ibis and the crocodile trembled at. I was buried for a thousand years, in stone coffins, with mummies and sphinxes, in narrow chambers at the heart of eternal pyramids.
As a final specimen, I cite one of a different cha- ¦ racter, from 1820.
The dream commenced with a music which now l often hear in dreams-a music of preparation and of awakening suspense; a music like the opening of the Coronation Anthem, and which, like that, gave the feeling of a vast march-of infinite cavalcades filing off-and the tread of innumerable armies. litera-morning was come of a mighty day—a day of crisis and of final hope for human nature, then suffering some mysterious eclipse, and labouring in some dread extremity. Somewhere, I knew not where somehow, I knew not how-by some beings, I knew not whoma battle, a strife, an agony was conducting-was evolving like a great drama or piece of music; with which my sympathy was the more insupportable from my confusion as to its place, its cause, its nature, and its possible issue. I, as is usual in dreams (where, of necessity, we make ourselves central to every movement), had the power, and yet had not the power to decide it. I had the power, if I could raise myself, to will it; and yet again had not the power, for the weight of twenty Atlantes was upon me, or the oppression of inexpiable guilt. Deeper than ever plummet sounded,' I lay inactive. Then, like a chorus, the passion deepened. Some greater interest was at stake; some mightier cause than ever yet the sword had pleaded or trumpet had proclaimed. Then came sudden alarms, hurrying to and fro; trepidations of innumerable fugitives, I knew not whether from the good cause or the bad; darkness and lights; tempest and human faces; and at last, with the sense that all was lost, female forms, and the features that were
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
The Confessions of an English Opium Eater, a small volume published in 1822 (originally contained in the London Magazine), is a singular and striking work, detailing the personal experience of an individual who had, like Coleridge, become a slave to the use of opium. To such an extent had the author carried this habit, that he was accustomed to take three hundred and twenty grains a-day. He finally emancipated himself, but not without a severe struggle and the deepest suffering. The Confessions' are written by THOMAS DE QUINCEY, a gentleman of extensive acquirements, literary and scholastic, son of an English merchant, and educated at Eton and Oxford. He has contributed largely to the periodical literature of the day, and is author of the admirable memoirs of Shakspeare and Pope in the Encyclopædia Britannica. The following extracts would do credit to the highest names in our original imaginative
[Dreams of the Opium Eater.] May, 1818. I have been every night of late transported into Asiatic scenes. I know not whether others share in my feelings on this point, but I have often thought that if I were compelled to forego England, and to live in China, and among Chinese manners and modes of life and scenery, I should go mad. The causes of my horror lie deep, and some of them must be common to others. Southern Asia in general is the seat of awful images and associations. As the cradle of the human race, it would have a dim and reverential feeling connected with it. But there are other reasons. No man can pretend that the wild, barbarous, and capricious superstitions of Africa, or of savage tribes elsewhere, affect in the way that he is affected by the ancient, monumental, cruel, and elaborate religions of Indostan, &c. The mere antiquity of Asiatic things, of their institutions, history, modes of faith, &c. is so impressive, that to me the vast age of the race and namie overpowers the sense of youth in the
worth all the world to me, and but a moment allowed -and clasped hands, and heart-breaking partings, and then everlasting farewells! and with a sigh, such as the caves of hell sighed when the incestuous mother uttered the abhorred name of death, the sound was reverberated-everlasting farewells! and again, and yet again reverberated-everlasting farewells! And I awoke in struggles, and cried aloud-'I will sleep no more!'
One of the most remarkable of the miscellaneous writers of this period was WILLIAM HAZLITT, whose bold and vigorous tone of thinking, and acute criticism on poetry, the drama, and fine arts, found many admirers, especially among young minds. He was a man of decided genius, but prone to paradox, and swayed by prejudice. He was well read in the old English authors, and had in general a just and delicate perception of their beauties. His style was strongly tinged by the peculiarities of his taste and reading; it was often sparkling, pungent, and picturesque in expression. Hazlitt was a native of Shropshire, the son of a Unitarian minister. He began life as a painter, but failed in attaining excellence in the profession, though he retained through life the most vivid and intense appreciation of its charms. His principal support was derived from the literary and political journals, to which he contributed essays, reviews, and criticisms. He wrote a metaphysical treatise on the Principles of Human Action; Characters of Shakspeare's Plays; A View of the English Stage; two volumes of Table Talk; The Spirit of the Age (containing criticisms on eminent public characters); Lectures on the English Poets, delivered at the Surrey Institution; Lectures on the Literature of the Elizabethan Age; and various sketches of the galleries of art in England. He was author also of Notes of a Journey through France and Italy, originally contributed to one of the daily journals; an Essay on the Fine Arts for the Encyclopædia Britannica; and some articles on the English novelists and other standard authors, first published in the Edinburgh Review. His most elaborate work was a Life of Napoleon, in four volumes, which evinces all the peculiarities of his mind and opinions, but is very ably and powerfully written. Shortly before his death (which took place in London on the 18th of September 1830) he had committed to the press the Conversations of James Northcote, Esq. containing remarks on arts and artists. The toils, uncertainties, and disappointments of a literary life, and the contests of bitter political warfare, soured and warped the mind of Hazlitt, and distorted his opinions of men and things; but those who trace the passionate flights of his imagination, his aspirations after ideal excellence and beauty, the brilliancy of his language while dwelling on some old poem, or picture, or dream of early days, and the undisguised freedom with which he pours out his whole soul to the reader, will readily assign to him both strength and versatility of genius. He had felt more than he had reflected or studied; and though proud of his acquirements as a metaphysician, he certainly could paint emotions better than he could unfold principles. The only son of Mr Hazlitt has, with pious diligence and with talent, collected and edited his father's works in a series of handsome portable
[The Character of Falstaff.]
Falstaff's wit is an emanation of a fine constitution; an exuberation of good-humour and good-nature; an >verflowing of his love of laughter and good-fellow
ship; a giving vent to his heart's ease and over-contentment with himself and others. He would not be in character if he were not so fat as he is; for there is the greatest keeping in the boundless luxury of his imagination, and the pampered self-indulgence of his physical appetites. He manures and nourishes his mind with jests, as he does his body with sack and sugar. He carves out his jokes as he would a capon or a haunch of venison, where there is cut and come again; and pours out upon them the oil of gladness. His tongue drops fatness, and in the chambers of his perpetual holiday and open house, and we live with brain it snows of meat and drink.' He keeps up him in a round of invitations to a rump and dozen. Yet we are not to suppose that he was a mere sensualist. All this is as much in imagination as in reality. His sensuality does not engross and stupify his other faculties, but ascends me into the brain, clears away all the dull crude vapours that environ it, and makes it full of nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes.' His imagination keeps up the ball after his
senses have done with it. He seems to have even a
greater enjoyment of the freedom from restraint, of good cheer, of his ease, of his vanity, in the ideal exaggerated description which he gives of them, than in fact. He never fails to enrich his discourse with allusions to eating and drinking; but we never see him at table. He carries his own larder about with him, and he is himself a tun of man.' His pulling out the bottle in the field of battle is a joke to show his contempt for glory accompanied with danger, his systematic adherence to his Epicurean philosophy in the most trying circumstances. Again, such is his deliberate exaggeration of his own vices, that it does not seem quite certain whether the account of his hostess's bill, found in his pocket, with such an out-of-the-way charge for capons and sack, with only one halfpennyworth of bread, was not put there by himself as a trick to humour the jest upon his favourite propensities, and as a conscious caricature of himself. He is represented as a liar, a braggart, a coward, a glutton &c. and yet we are not offended, but delighted with him; for he is all these as much to amuse others as to gratify himself. He openly assumes all these characters to show the humorous part of them. The unrestrained indulgence of his own ease, appetites, and convenience, has neither malice nor hypocrisy in it. In a word, he is an actor in himself almost as much as upon the stage, and we no more object to the character of Falstaff in a moral point of view, than we should think of bringing an excellent comedian, who should represent him to the life, before one of the police offices.
[The Character of Hamlet.]
It is the one of Shakspeare's plays that we think of the oftenest, because it abounds most in striking reflections on human life, and because the distresses of Hamlet are transferred, by the turn of his mind, to the general account of humanity. Whatever happens to him, we apply to ourselves, because he applies it to himself as a means of general reasoning. He is a great moraliser; and what makes him worth attending to is, that he moralises on his own feelings and experience. He is not a commonplace pedant. If Lear is distinguished by the greatest depth of passion, Hamlet is the most remarkable for the ingenuity, originality, and unstudied development of character. Shakspeare had more magnanimity than any other poet, and he has shown more of it in this play than in any other. There is no attempt to force an interest: everything is left for time and circumstances to unfold. The attention is excited without effort; the incidents succeed each other as matters of course; the characters think, and speak, and act just as they might do if left entirely to themselves. There is no set purpose, no