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Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. XX 1821
Leigh Hunt to William Hazlitt; [April 1821]

Chap. I 1778-1811
Ch. II: 1791-95
Ch. III 1795-98
Ch. IV 1798
Ch. V 1798
Ch. VI 1792-1803
Ch. VII 1803-05
Ch. VIII 1803-05
Ch. IX
Ch. X 1807
Ch. XI 1808
Ch. XII 1808
Ch. XII 1812
Ch. XIV 1814-15
Ch. XV 1814-17
Ch. XVI 1818
Ch. XVII 1820
Ch. XX 1821
Ch. I 1821
Ch. II 1821-22
Ch. III 1821-22
Ch. IV 1822
Ch. V 1822
Ch. VI 1822
Ch. VII 1822-23
Ch. VIII 1822
Ch. IX 1823
Ch. X 1824
Ch. XI 1825
Ch. XII 1825
Ch. XIII 1825
Ch. XIV 1825
Ch. XV 1825
Ch. XVI 1825-27
Ch. XVII 1826-28
Ch. XVIII 1829-30
Ch. XX
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“Monday, April [ , 1821].
“Dear Hazlitt,

“If you do not want to quarrel with me, I certainly do not want to quarrel with you. I have always said, to my own mind and to those few to whom I am in the habit of speaking on such things, that Hazlitt might play me more tricks than any man; and I conceive you have played me some.* If I have teased you, as you

* There was always a little feeling of jealousy between my grandfather and Leigh Hunt. The former saw in his friend all those social qualities which he himself was not possessed of, and many elegant accomplishments to which he could not pretend. On the other hand, Mr. Hunt was apt to take umbrage if Mr. Hazlitt happened, in any company where they might both be, to attract more than a fair share of attention by the interest awakened in his remarks on any subject in which he was versed. But apart from these foibles, I believe sincerely that Mr. Hunt had a real friendship and regard for my grandfather, and that the latter reciprocated the sentiment—to a certain extent, valuing Mr. Hunt as one who had been, and

say, I have never revenged myself by trampling upon you in public; and I do not understand you when you say that there is no difference between having an ill opinion of one in private and trying to make everybody else partake it. But I am not aware how I can have teased you to the extent you seem to intimate. How can anybody say that I talked about the collusion you speak of? It is impossible. I both spoke of your lectures in the
Examiner, and came to hear them; not indeed so often as I could wish, but Mrs. Hunt knows how I used to fret myself every evening at not being able to go. It was illness, and nothing else, upon my soul, that detained me; and in this it is that I accuse you of want of imagination. You have imagination enough to sympathize with all the world in the lump; but out of the pale of your own experience, in illness and other matters of consciousness, you seem to me incapable of making the same allowance for others which you demand for yourself. I attribute your cuttings-up of me to anything but what should make me resent them, and yet you will put the worst construction on anything I do or omit—I mean the unhandsomest construction towards yourself. I think I have consulted our personal feelings, always where I might have

was, an earnest champion in the Liberal cause, long since deserted by Coleridge and Southey, and wanting all the support its true friends could lend to it. It will be remarked that in the first letter which Mr. Hunt addressed to Mr. H., he reproved him—not without reason—for betraying any, the slightest, symptom of disunion in the Liberal ranks.

revenged myself publicly, and sometimes where I have publicly praised you. I imagined, for instance, I had selected a good moment for doing the latter, when I called upon you in the Examiner to hear the hisses bestowed upon the
Duke of Wellington. But these per contra accounts are unpleasant. I am willing to be told where my attentions to a friend are deficient; nor could you mistake me more when you say I should have ‘laughed’ at you for complaining. On the contrary, let but the word friendship be mentioned, and nobody is disposed to be graver than myself—to a pitch of emotion. But here I will let you into one of the secrets you ask for. I have often said, I have a sort of irrepressible love for Hazlitt, on account of his sympathy with mankind, his unmercenary disinterestedness, and his suffering; and I should have a still greater and more personal affection for him if he would let one; but I declare to God I never seem to know whether he is pleased or displeased, cordial or uncordial—indeed, his manners are never cordial—and he has a way with him, when first introduced to you, and ever afterwards, as if he said, ‘I have no faith in anything, especially your advances: don’t you flatter yourself you have any road to my credulity: we have nothing in common between us.’ Then you escape into a corner, and your conversation is apt to be as sarcastic and incredulous about all the world as your manner. Now, egregious fop as you have made me out in your book, with my jealousy of anything bigger than a leaf, and other marvels—who is to be fop enough to suppose that any
efforts of his can make you more comfortable? Or how can you so repel one, and then expect, not that we should make no efforts (for those we owe you on other accounts), but that it could possibly enter our heads you took our omissions so much to heart? The tears came into the eyes of this heartless coxcomb when he read the passage in your letter where you speak of not having a soul to stand by you. I was very ill, I confess, at the time, and you may lay it to that account. I was also very ill on Thursday night, when I took up your book to rest my wits in, after battling all day with the most dreadful nervousness. This, and your attack on
Mr. Shelley, which I must repeat was most outrageous, unnecessary, and even, for its professed purposes, impolitic, must account for my letter. But I will endeavour to break the force of that blow in another manner, if I can. As to the other points in your letter, if you wish me to say anything about them—everybody knows what I think of Godwin’s behaviour and of your magnanimity to boot, in such matters. But in sparing and assisting Godwin, you need not have helped him to drive irons into Shelley’s soul. Reynolds is a machine I don’t see the meaning of. As to Lamb, I must conclude that he abstained from speaking of you, either because you cut so at Coleridge, or from thinking that his good word would really be of no service to you. Of the ‘execution’ you may remember what I have said; but I was assured again on Saturday that Bentham knew nothing of it. How can you say I ‘shirked’ out of Blackwood’s business, when I took all the pains I could
to make that raff and coward,
Z,* come forward? But I will leave these and other matters to talk over when I see you, when I will open myself more to you than I have done, seeing that it may not be indifferent to you for me to do so. At any rate, as I mean this in kindness, oblige me in one matter, and one only, and take some early opportunity of doing justice to the talents and generous qualities of Shelley, whatever you may think of his mistakes in using them. The attack on me is a trifle compared with it, nor should I allude to it again but to say, and to say most honestly, that you might make five more if you would only relieve the more respectable part of my chagrin and impatience in that matter. You must imagine what I feel at bottom with regard to yourself, when I tell you that there is but one other person from whom I could have at all borne this attack on Shelley; but in one respect that only makes it the less bearable.

“Yours sincerely,
“L. H.”