Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hazlitt, William (1778-1830), one of the best English critics, was born at Maidstone, where his father was a Unitarian minister. He was educated for the ministry of that denomination, but early abandoned the notion of entering it. His Unitarian connection, however, gained for him the acquaintance of Coleridge, in whose company he also met Wordsworth in 1799. For a few years he devoted his time to painting, and his portrait of Lamb as a Venetian Senator is in the National Portrait Gallery ; but he soon abandoned art for his true vocation as a man of letters. He had, indeed, so early as his fourteenth year, contributed to a paper, and in 1806 was published his Principles of Human Action. In 1812 he settled in London, living in a house in Westminster belonging to Jeremy Bentham. He soon became connected with the Morning Chronicle, and afterwards with Leigh Hunt's Examiner, for which, with Hunt, he wrote the series of essays called The Round Table. He also occasionally contributed to the Edinburgh Review. As a lecturer he was very successful, his lectures on the English comic writers, on the English poets, and on the dramatic literature of the reign of Elizabeth, all of which were published, being his best efforts. Most of his essays first appeared in the London Magazine and Colburn's New Monthly, including those afterwards contained in Table Talk and The Plain Speaker. His Characteristics (1823-27) were an imitation of Rochefoucauld. The Charaders of Shakespeare's Plays was Hazlitt's most popular work, but probably his Review of the Enylish Stage was the most valuable. The Life of Napoleon showed him at his worst. Hazlitt, though his reading was not wide and included no Greek or German authors, was a versatile as well as an acute writer. His political opinions seem to have been chiefly negative, but he was virulently attacked by the Tory writers, and in one instance, at least - his letter to Gifford, the editor of the Quarterly Review - he replied with triumphant bitterness.