Sunday 26 October 2014

Favourite snatches (19)

Annihilating prose. Here's one William on another, and no prizes for guessing either:

"He sees nothing but himself and the universe.  He hates all greatness and all pretensions to it but his own.  His egotism is in this respect a madness; for he scorns even the admiration of himself, thinking it a presumption in any one to suppose that he has taste or sense enough to understand him.  He hates all science and all art; he hates chemistry, he hates conchology; he hates SIr Isaac Newton, he hates logic, he hates metaphysics, which he says are unintelligible, and yet he would be thought to understand them; he hates prose, he hates all poetry but his own; he hates Shakespeare, or what he calls 'these interlocutions between Lucius and Caius,' because he would have all the talk to himself, and considers the moments of passion in Lear, Othello, or Macbeth impertinent, compared with the Moods of his own Mind; he thinks everything good is contained in the Lyrical Ballads, or if it is not contained there, it is good for nothing; he hates music, dancing and painting; he hates Rubens, he hates Rembrandt, he hates Raphael, he hates Titian, he hates VanDyke; he hates the antique, he hates the Apollo Belvedere, he hates the Venus de Medicis. He hates all that others love and admire but himself. He is glad that Bonaparte was sent to St; Helena, and that the Louvre is dispersed for the same reason - to get rid of anything greater, or thought greater than himself. The Bourbons and their processions of the Holy Ghost give no disturbance to his vanity; and he therefore gives them none."

It's Hazlitt on Wordsworth of course, and from the The Examiner, December 22, 1816 page 803.

Thanks to my regular Canadian correspondent for sending this. I haven't read Hazlitt for many years, although recently skimmed Tom Paulin's biography, which was pretty good. Hazlitt might make perfect winter reading in  the dark months ahead. He makes Wordsworth sound every bit as unappealing as Simon Cowell.

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