William Hazlitt Quotes

173 Quotes Sorted by Search Results (Descending)

About William Hazlitt

William Hazlitt (April 10 1778 – September 18 1830) was an English writer remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism. He is sometimes esteemed the greatest English literary critic after Samuel Johnson.

Born: April 10th, 1778

Died: September 18th, 1830

Categories: English people, 1830s deaths, Authors, Critics, Humanists

Quotes: 173 sourced quotes total (includes 2 misattributed, 4 about)

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Prejudice is the child of ignorance…
Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy.
Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.
John Lamb (the brother of Charles) once knocked down Hazlitt, who was impertinent to him; and on those who were present interfering and begging Hazlitt to shake hands and forgive him, Hazlitt said, "Well, I don't care if I do. I am a metaphysician, and do not mind a blow; nothing but an idea hurts me."
About William Hazlitt
• Thomas Moore, in his Journal (9 September 1820), vol. III, p. 146.
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes about Hazlitt: Sorted alphabetically by author or source)
Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.
If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory.
As is our confidence, so is our capacity.
Few things tend more to alienate friendship than a want of punctuality in our engagements. I have known the breach of a promise to dine or sup to break up more than one intimacy.
We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.
William Hazlitt
• "Thoughts on Taste," Edinburgh Magazine, (October 1818), reprinted in The Collected Works of William Hazlitt (1902-1904).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes)
The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have.
Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.
William Hazlitt
• "The Sick Chamber," The New Monthly Magazine (August 1830), reprinted in Essays of William Hazlitt, selected and edited by Frank Carr (London, 1889).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes)
The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases.
Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone — but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.
We are not hypocrites in our sleep.
When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.
William Hazlitt
• "On The Spirit of Controversy," The Atlas (30 January 1830), reprinted in The Collected Works of William Hazlitt (1902-1904).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes)
Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is a greater. Possession pampers the mind; privation trains and strengthens it.
William Hazlitt
• "On the Conversations of Lords," New Monthly Magazine (April 1826).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes, Men and Manners: Sketches and Essays (1852))
Those who make their dress a principal part of themselves, will, in general, become of no more value than their dress.
No really great man ever thought himself so.
Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food.
He will never have true friends who is afraid of making enemies.
The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure much.
William Hazlitt
• "Common Places," No. 1, The Literary Examiner (September - December 1823), reprinted in The Collected Works of William Hazlitt (1902-1904).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes)
The way to procure insults is to submit to them. A man meets with no more respect than he exacts.
Envy among other ingredients has a mixture of the love of justice in it. We are more angry at undeserved than at deserved good-fortune.
I cannot see the wit of walking and talking at the same time. When I am in the country, I wish to vegetate like the country.
Even in the common affairs of life, in love, friendship, and marriage, how little security have we when we trust our happiness in the hands of others!
There is not a more mean, stupid, dastardly, pitiful, selfish, spiteful, envious, ungrateful animal than the Public. It is the greatest of cowards, for it is afraid of itself.
Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. He who has a contempt for poetry, cannot have much respect for himself, or for anything else.
Mankind are an incorrigible race. Give them but bugbears and idols — it is all that they ask; the distinctions of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood, of good and evil, are worse than indifferent to them.
Zeal will do more than knowledge.
Great thoughts reduced to practice become great acts.
No young man believes he shall ever die.
Genius, like humanity, rusts for want of use.
Learning is, in too many cases, but a foil to common sense; a substitute for true knowledge.
Man is a make-believe animal — he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.
If we wish to know the force of human genius, we should read Shakespeare. If we wish to see the insignificance of human learning, we may study his commentators.
Corporate bodies are more corrupt and profligate than individuals, because they have more power to do mischief, and are less amenable to disgrace or punishment. They feel neither shame, remorse, gratitude, nor goodwill.
The most sensible people to be met with in society are men of business and of the world, who argue from what they see and know, instead of spinning cobweb distinctions of what things ought to be.
Danger is a good teacher, and makes apt scholars. So are disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn and laughter. There is no opportunity in such cases for self-delusion, no idling time away, no being off your guard (or you must take the consequences) — neither is there any room for humour or caprice or prejudice.
Very trifling circumstances do give great and daily annoyance, and as often prove too much for our philosophy and forbearance, as matters of the highest moment. … The truth is, we pamper little griefs into great ones, and bear great ones as well as we can … To great evils we submit; we resent little provocations.''
One has no notion of him as making use of a fine pen, but a great mutton-fist; his style stuns readers...He is too much for any single newspaper antagonist; "lays waste" a city orator or Member of Parliament, and bears hard upon the government itself. He is kind of fourth estate in the politics of the country.
The objects that we have known in better days are the main props that sustain the weight of our affections, and give us strength to await our future lot. The future is like a dead wall or a thick mist hiding all objects from our view; the past is alive and stirring with objects, bright or solemn, and of unfading interest.
It has been the resolution of mankind in all ages of the world. No people, no age, ever threw away the fruits of past wisdom, or the enjoyment of present blessings, for visionary schemes of ideal perfection. It is the knowledge of the past, the actual infliction of the present, that has produced all changes, all innovations, and all improvements — not (as is pretended) the chimerical anticipation of possible advantages, but the intolerable pressure of long-established, notorious, aggravated, and growing abuses.
We cannot by a little verbal sophistry confound the qualities of different minds, nor force opposite excellences into a union by all the intolerance in the world. … If we have a taste for some one precise style or manner, we may keep it to ourselves and let others have theirs. If we are more catholic in our notions, and want variety of excellence and beauty, it is spread abroad for us to profusion in the variety of books and in the several growth of men's minds, fettered by no capricious or arbitrary rules.
Of the two classes of people, I hardly know which is to be regarded with most distaste, the vulgar aping the genteel, or the genteel constantly sneering at and endeavouring to distinguish themselves from the vulgar. … True worth does not exult in the faults and deficiencies of others; as true refinement turns away from grossness and deformity, instead of being tempted to indulge in an unmanly triumph over it. … Real power, real excellence, does not seek for a foil in inferiority; nor fear contamination from coming in contact with that which is coarse and homely.
Some persons make promises for the pleasure of breaking them.
All that is worth remembering in life, is the poetry of it.
One shining quality lends a lustre to another, or hides some glaring defect.
To give a reason for anything is to breed a doubt of it…
He talked on for ever; and you wished him to talk on for ever.
Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects, and discovering other people's weaknesses.
A nickname is the heaviest stone that the devil can throw at a man.
The only vice which cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.
We grow tired of every thing but turning others into ridicule, and congratulating ourselves on their defects.
An honest man speaks the truth, though it may give offence; a vain man, in order that it may.
No man is truly great who is great only in his lifetime. The test of greatness is the page of history.
It is well that there is no one without a fault; for he would not have a friend in the world.
A scholar is like a book written in a dead language — it is not every one that can read in it.
Those who aim at faultless regularity will only produce mediocrity, and no one ever approaches perfection except by stealth, and unknown to themselves.
The way to get on in the world is to be neither more nor less wise, neither better nor worse than your neighbours.
I should on this account like well enough to spend the whole of my life in travelling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home.
Defoe says, that there were a hundred thousand stout country-fellows in his time ready to fight to the death against popery, without knowing whether popery was a man or a horse.
The world judge of men by their ability in their profession, and we judge of ourselves by the same test; for it is on that on which our success in life depends.
No wise man can have a contempt for the prejudices of others; and he should even stand in a certain awe of his own, as if they were aged parents and monitors. They may in the end prove wiser than he.
I hate to be near the sea, and to hear it roaring and raging like a wild beast in its den. It puts me in mind of the everlasting efforts of the human mind, struggling to be free, and ending just where it began.
Give me the clear blue sky over my head, and the green turf beneath my feet, a winding road before me, and a three hours' march to dinner — and then to thinking! … I begin to feel, think, and be myself again. Instead of an awkward silence, broken by attempts at wit or dull common-places, mine is that undisturbed silence of the heart which alone is perfect eloquence.
His hypothesis goes to this — to make the common run of his readers fancy they can do all that can be done by genius, and to make the man of genius believe he can only do what is to be done by mechanical rules and systematic industry. This is not a very feasible scheme; nor is Sir Joshua sufficiently clear and explicit in his reasoning in support of it.
There is (so to speak) "a mighty stream of tendency" to good in the human mind, upon which all objects float and are imperceptibly borne along; and though in the voyage of life we meet with strong rebuffs, with rocks and quicksands, yet there is a "a tide in the affairs of men," a heaving and a restless aspiration of the soul, by means of which, "with sails and tackle torn," the wreck and scattered fragments of our entire being drift into the port and haven of our desires!
He changes his opinions as he does his friends, and much on the same account. He has no comfort in fixed principles; as soon as anything is settled in his own mind, he quarrels with it. He has no satisfaction but the chase after truth, runs a question down, worries and kills it, then quits it like a vermin, and starts some new game, to lead him a new dance, and give him a fresh breathing through bog and brake, with the rabble yelping at his heels and the leaders perpetually at fault.
Well, I've had a happy life.
Those who can command themselves, command others.
Grace in women has more effect than beauty.
Wit is, in fact, the eloquence of indifference.
Satirists gain the applause of others through fear, not through love.
We are all of us more or less the slaves of opinion.
The player envies only the player, the poet envies only the poet.
Though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes off the edge of admiration.
They are the only honest hypocrites. Their life is a voluntary dream; a studied madness.
If the world were good for nothing else, it is a fine subject for speculation.
If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago.
But there is an unseemly exposure of the mind, as well as of the body.
Grace is the absence of every thing that indicates pain or difficulty, or hesitation or incongruity.
We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.
The least pain in our little finger gives us more concern and uneasiness, than the destruction of millions of our fellow-beings.
The temple of fame stands upon the grave: the flame that burns upon its altars is kindled from the ashes of dead men.
Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope; and few are reduced so low as that.
One truth discovered is immortal, and entitles its author to be so; for, like a new substance in nature, it cannot be destroyed.
He who comes up to his own idea of greatness, must always have had a very low standard of it in his mind.
So have I loitered my life away, reading books, looking at pictures, going to plays, hearing, thinking, writing on what pleased me best.
We are very much what others think of us. The reception our observations meet with gives us courage to proceed, or damps our efforts.
There is a feeling of Eternity in youth which makes us amends for everything. To be young is to be as one of the Immortals.
Modesty is the lowest of the virtues, and is a real confession of the deficiency it indicates. He who undervalues himself is justly undervalued by others.
To get others to come into our ways of thinking, we must go over to theirs; and it is necessary to follow, in order to lead.
If I have not read a book before, it is, for all intents and purposes, new to me, whether it was printed yesterday or three hundred years ago.
The confession of our failings is a thankless office. It savors less of sincerity or modesty than of ostentation. It seems as if we thought our weaknesses as good as other people's virtues.
Without the aid of prejudice and custom, I should not be able to find my way across the room; nor know how to conduct myself in any circumstances, nor what to feel in any relation of life.
The slaves of power mind the cause they have to serve, because their own interest is concerned; but the friends of liberty always sacrifice their cause, which is only the cause of humanity, to their own spleen, vanity, and self-opinion.
William Hazlitt
• Review of Lord Byron's Childe Harold in Yellow Dwarf (2 May 1818), reprinted in The Collected Works of William Hazlitt, ed. A.R. Waller and Arnold Glover (1902-1904).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes)
The thing is plain. All that men really understand is confined to a very small compass; to their daily affairs and experience; to what they have an opportunity to know and motives to study or practise. The rest is affectation and imposture.
In art, in taste, in life, in speech, you decide from feeling, and not from reason … If we were obliged to enter into a theoretical deliberation on every occasion before we act, life would be at a stand, and Art would be impracticable.
But fashion is the abortive issue of vain ostentation and exclusive egotism: it is haughty, trifling, affected, servile, despotic, mean and ambitious, precise and fantastical, all in a breath — tied to no rule, and bound to conform to every whim of the minute.
Belief is with them mechanical, voluntary: they believe what they are paid for — they swear to that which turns to account. Do you suppose, that after years spent in this manner, they have any feeling left answering to the difference between truth and falsehood?
William Hazlitt
• "The Modern Gradus ad Parnassum," London Weekly Review (17 May 1828), reprinted in New Writings by William Hazlitt, ed. P. P. Howe (London, 1925).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes)
The way to secure success, is to be more anxious about obtaining than about deserving it; the surest hindrance to it is to have too high a standard of refinement in our own minds, or too high an opinion of the discernment of the public.
The origin of all science is in the desire to know causes; and the origin of all false science and imposture is in the desire to accept false causes rather than none; or, which is the same thing, in the unwillingness to acknowledge our own ignorance.
William Hazlitt
Burke and the Edinburgh Phrenologists in The Atlas (15 February 1829); reprinted in New Writings by William Hazlitt, William Hazlitt and Percival Presland Howe (ed.), (2nd edition, 1925), p. 117; also reprinted in The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, Volume 20: Miscellaneous writings, (J.M. Dent and Sons, 1934), (AMS Press, 1967), p. 201.
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes)
Fame is the inheritance not of the dead, but of the living. It is we who look back with lofty pride to the great names of antiquity, who drink of that flood of glory as of a river, and refresh our wings in it for future flight.
If a person has no delicacy, he has you in his power, for you necessarily feel some towards him; and since he will take no denial, you must comply with his peremptory demands, or send for a constable, which out of respect for his character you will not do.
There are few things in which we deceive ourselves more than in the esteem we profess to entertain for our friends. It is little better than a piece of quackery. The truth is, we think of them as we please — that is as they please or displease us.
The Tory is one who is governed by sense and habit alone. He considers not what is possible, but what is real; he gives might the preference over right. He cries long life to the conqueror, and is ever strong upon the stronger side — the side of corruption and prerogative.
General principles are not the less true or important because, from their nature they elude immediate observation; they are like the air, which is not the less necessary because we neither see nor feel it, or like that secret influence which binds the world together and holds the planets in their orbits.
Perhaps the best cure for the fear of death is to reflect that life has a beginning as well as an end. There was a time when we were not: this gives us no concern — why then should it trouble us that a time will come when we shall cease to be?
Whatever is placed beyond the reach of sense and knowledge, whatever is imperfectly discerned, the fancy pieces out at its leisure; and all but the present moment, but the present spot, passion claims for its own, and brooding over it with wings outspread, stamps it with an image of itself. Passion is lord of infinite space, and distant objects please because they border on its confines and are moulded by its touch.
Thought depends on the habitual exercise of the speculative faculties; action, on the determination of the will. The one assigns reasons for things, the other puts causes into act. … Such is the effeminacy of the speculative and philosophical temperament, compared with the promptness and vigour of the practical! … Reasoners in general are undecided, wavering, and sceptical, or yield at last to the weakest motive as most congenial to their feeble habit of soul.
It [will-making] is the latest opportunity we have of exercising the natural perversity of the disposition … This last act of our lives seldom belies the former tenor of them for stupidity, caprice, and unmeaning spite. All that we seem to think of is to manage matters so (in settling accounts with those who are so unmannerly as to survive us) as to do as little good, and to plague and disappoint as many people, as possible.
The poetical impression of any object is that uneasy, exquisite sense of beauty or power that cannot be contained within itself; that is impatient of all limit; that (as flame bends to flame) strives to link itself to some other image of kindred beauty or grandeur; to enshrine itself, as it were, in the highest forms of fancy, and to relieve the aching sense of pleasure by expressing it in the boldest manner, and by the most striking examples of the same quality in other instances.
What I mean by living to one's-self is living in the world, as in it, not of it: it is as if no one know there was such a person, and you wished no one to know it: it is to be a silent spectator of the mighty scene of things, not an object of attention or curiosity in it; to take a thoughtful, anxious interest in what is passing in the world, but not to feel the slightest inclination to make or meddle with it.
Scholars, like princes, may learn something by being incognito. Yet we see those who cannot go into a bookseller's shop, or bear to be five minutes in a stage-coach, without letting you know who they are. They carry their reputation about with them as the snail does its shell, and sit under its canopy, like the lady in the lobster. I cannot understand this at all. What is the use of a man's always revolving round his own little circle? He must, one should think, be tired of it himself, as well as tire other people.
I think it is a rule that men in business should not be taught other things. Any one will be almost sure to make money who has no other idea in his head. A college education, or intense study of abstract truth, will not enable a man to drive a bargain … The best politicians are not those who are deeply grounded in mathematical or in ethical science. Rules stand in the way of expediency. Many a man has been hindered from pushing his fortune in the world by an early cultivation of his moral sense.
The public have neither shame or gratitude.
Good temper is an estate for life…
We can scarcely hate any one that we know.
The most learned are often the most narrow-minded men.
Death is the greatest evil, because it cuts off hope.
Good temper is one of the great preservers of the features.
Misattributed to William Hazlitt
• This is from Hazlitt's "Conversations of James Northcote, Esq., R.A.," New Monthly Magazine (1826-1827), published in book form in 1830; but the words were spoken by Northcote.
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Misattributed)
The perfect joys of heaven do not satisfy the cravings of nature.
Some one is generally sure to be the sufferer by a joke.
The art of will-making chiefly consists in baffling the importunity of expectation.
There are names written in her immortal scroll, at which FAME blushes!
Grace has been defined the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.
He who would see old Hoghton right Must view it by the pale moonlight.
Every man, in his own opinion, forms an exception to the ordinary rules of morality.
The characteristic of Chaucer is intensity; of Spenser, remoteness; of Milton, elevation; of Shakespeare, every thing.
The great requisite … for the prosperous management of ordinary business is the want of imagination.
The true barbarian is he who thinks every thing barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices.
There is, however, no prejudice so strong as that which arises from a fancied exemption from all prejudice.
It is hard for any one to be an honest politician who is not born and bred a Dissenter.
It is better to be able neither to read nor write than to be able to do nothing else.
Our friends are generally ready to do everything for us, except the very thing we wish them to do.
To a superior race of beings the pretensions of mankind to extraordinary sanctity and virtue must seem equally ridiculous.
You know more of a road by having travelled it then by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.
The person whose doors I enter with most pleasure, and quit with most regret, never did me the smallest favour.
A grave blockhead should always go about with a lively one — they shew one another off to the best advantage.
To be remembered after we are dead, is but a poor recompense for being treated with contempt while we are living.
The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down, and requires to be as constantly wound up.
Men of genius do not excel in any profession because they labour in it, but they labour in it because they excel.
For my own part, as I once said, I like a friend the better for having faults that one can talk about.
Again, there is a heroism in crime as well as in virtue. Vice and infamy have also their altars and their religion.
Learning is its own exceeding great reward; and at the period of which we speak, it bore other fruits, not unworthy of it.
The truly proud man knows neither superiors nor inferiors. The first he does not admit of: the last he does not concern himself about.
Those only deserve a monument who do not need one; that is, who have raised themselves a monument in the minds and memories of men.
A gentleman is one who understands and shows every mark of deference to the claims of self-love in others, and exacts it in return from them.
Anyone must be mainly ignorant or thoughtless, who is surprised at everything he sees; or wonderfully conceited who expects everything to conform to his standard of propriety.
We often forget our dreams so speedily: if we cannot catch them as they are passing out at the door, we never set eyes on them again.
If Samuel Johnson was the more deliberate aphorist, Hazlitt was the more self-conscious literary architect. You quote lines from Johnson; you want to recite entire passages from Hazlitt.
About William Hazlitt
• Arthur Krystal, in The New Yorker (18 May 2009), p. 74.
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes about Hazlitt: Sorted alphabetically by author or source)
Any one who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape.
Indeed some degree of affectation is as necessary to the mind as dress is to the body; we must overact our part in some measure, in order to produce any effect at all.
Horus non numero nisi serenas (I count only the hours that are serene.) is the motto of a sundial near Venice. There is a softness and a harmony in the words and in the thought unparalleled.
Look up, laugh loud, talk big, keep the colour in your cheek and the fire in your eye, adorn your person, maintain your health, your beauty, and your animal spirits, and you will pass for a fine man.
When a man is dead, they put money in his coffin, erect monuments to his memory, and celebrate the anniversary of his birthday in set speeches. Would they take any notice of him if he were living? No!
The love of fame, as it enters at times into his mind, is only another name for the love of excellence; or it is the ambition to attain the highest excellence, sanctioned by the highest authority — that of time.
Gallantry to women (the sure road to their favor) is nothing but the appearance of extreme devotion to all their wants and wishes, a delight in their satisfaction, and a confidence in yourself as being able to contribute toward it.
One of the pleasantest things in the world is going a journey; but I like to do it myself. I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me. I am then never less alone than when alone.
The last sort I shall mention are verbal critics — mere word-catchers, fellows that pick out a word in a sentence and a sentence in a volume, and tell you it is wrong. The title of Ultra-Crepidarian critics has been given to a variety of this species.
Unlimited power is helpless, as arbitrary power is capricious. Our energy is in proportion to the resistance it meets. We can attempt nothing great, but from a sense of the difficulties we have to encounter: we can persevere in nothing great, but from a pride in overcoming them.
His manners are to 99 in 100 singularly repulsive—; brow-hanging, shoe-contemplative, strange. … he is, I verily believe, kindly-nature; is very of, attentive to, and patient with children; but he is jealous, gloomy, and of an irritable pride — and addicted to women, as objects of sexual indulgence.
About William Hazlitt
• Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in a letter to Thomas Wedgwood (1803), in Unpublished Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. E.L. Griggs (1932).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes about Hazlitt: Sorted alphabetically by author or source)
We all wear some disguise — make some professions — use some artifice to set ourselves off as being better than we are; and yet it is not denied that we have some good intentions and praiseworthy qualities at bottom, though we may endeavour to keep some others that we think less to our credit as much as possible in the background…
First impressions are often the truest, as we find (not unfrequently) to our cost when we have been wheedled out of them by plausible professions or actions. A man's look is the work of years, it is stamped on his countenance by the events of his whole life, nay, more, by the hand of nature, and it is not to be got rid of easily.
This Journal, then, is a depository for every species of political sophistry and personal calumny. There is no abuse or corruption that does not there find a jesuitical palliation or a bare-faced vindication. There we meet the slime of hypocrisy, the varnish of courts, the cant of pedantry, the cobwebs of the law, the iron hand of power. Its object is as mischievous as the means by which it is pursued are odious.
Happy are they who live in the dream of their own existence, and see all things in the light of their own minds; who walk by faith and hope; to whom the guiding star of their youth still shines from afar, and into whom the spirit of the world has not entered! They have not been "hurt by the archers", nor has the iron entered their souls. The world has no hand on them.
The miscreant Hazlitt continues, I have heard, his abuses of Southey, Coleridge and myself, in the Examiner. — I hope that you do not associate with this Fellow, he is not a proper person to be admitted into respectable society, being the most perverse and malevolent Creature that ill luck has ever thrown in my way. Avoid him — hic niger est — And this, I understand, is the general opinion wherever he is known in London.
About William Hazlitt
• William Wordsworth, in a letter to Benjamin Robert Haydon (7 April 1817), in Critical Opinions of William Wordsworth, ed. M.L. Peacock (1950).
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Hazlitt" (Quotes about Hazlitt: Sorted alphabetically by author or source)
They [universities] may be said to resemble antiquated coquettes of the last age, who think everything ridiculous and intolerable but what was in fashion when they were young, and yet are standing proofs of the progress of taste and the vanity of human pretensions. Our universities are, in a great measure, become cisterns to hold, not conduits to disperse knowledge. … they can only be of service as a check-weight on the too hasty and rapid career of innovation. … The unavoidable aim of all corporate bodies of learning is not to grow wise, or teach others wisdom, but to prevent any one else from being or seeming wiser than themselves.
Our first of poets was one of our first of men. He was an eminent instance to prove that a poet is not another name for the slave of power and fashion … who merely aspire to make up the pageant and show of the day. There are persons in common life who … can so little bear to be left for any length of time out of the grand carnival and masquerade of pride and folly, that they will gain admittance to it at the expense of their characters … Milton was not one of these. He had lofty contemplative principle, and consciousness of inward power and worth, [not] to be tempted by such idle baits.
It is strange that people should take so much interest at one time in what they so soon forget; — the truth is, they feel no interest in it [news of the day] at any time, but it does for something to talk about. Their ideas are served up to them, like their bill of fare, for the day; and the whole creation, history, war, politics, morals, poetry, metaphysics, is to them like a file of antedated newspapers, of no use, not even for reference, except the one which lies on the table! You cannot take any of these persons at a greater disadvantage than before they are provided with their cue for the day. They ask with a face of dreary vacuity, 'Have you anything new?' — and on receiving an answer in the negative, have nothing further to say.
Reputation runs in a vicious circle, and Merit limps behind it, mortified and abashed at its own insignificance. It has been said that the test of fame or popularity is to consider the number of times your name is repeated by others … So, if you see the same name staring you in the face in great letters at the corner of every street, you involuntarily think the owner of it must be a great man to occupy so large a space in the eye of the town. The appeal is made, in the first instance, to the senses, but it sinks below the surface into the mind. There are various ways of playing one's-self off before the public, and keeping one's name alive. The newspapers, the lamp-posts, the walls of empty houses, the shutters of windows, the blank covers of magazines and reviews, are open to every one.
It is not easy to write a familiar style. Many people mistake a familiar for a vulgar style, and suppose that to write without affectation is to write at random. On the contrary, there is nothing that requires more precision, and, if I may so say, purity of expression, than the style I am speaking of. It utterly rejects not only all unmeaning pomp, but all low, cant phrases, and loose, unconnected, slipshod allusions. It is not to take the first word that offers, but the best word in common use; it is not to throw words together in any combinations we please, but to follow and avail ourselves of the true idiom of the language. To write a genuine familiar or truly English style, is to write as anyone would speak in common conversation who had a thorough command and choice of words, or who could discourse with ease, force, and perspicuity, setting aside all pedantic and oratorical flourishes... It is easy to affect a pompous style, to use a word twice as big as the thing you want to express: it is not so easy to pitch upon the very word that exactly fits it, out of eight or ten words equally common, equally intelligible, with nearly equal pretensions, it is a matter of some nicety and discrimination to pick out the very one the preferableness of which is scarcely perceptible, but decisive.

End William Hazlitt Quotes