Give me an Aitch!

I had a master plan for this blog. Here it is:

  1. Talk about Hazlitt a lot

I decided to rely on the Guardian. They love Hazlitt, and run a story on him approx. once every two months. I could then use this an excuse to chatter at length about the great man.Hey Presto!

(Incidentally, running stories about him works better than their old plan: for a while, the Saturday edition featured an extract from his essays run under a columnist picture byline. I’d start reading it without checking the name or picture, and for a couple of sentences my head would vibrate rapidly with pleasure – I was simply stunned by the tough authority and intelligence of this writer. Then I’d notice it was a Hazlitt piece, and that explained that, leaving me to read the rest of the paper in a fury at the mangy inadequacy of every other columnist. Lesson: keep genius at a distance. It makes you look bad. Sadly, that’s how they treated him then.)

Today, to celebrate Michael Foot bequeathing his Hazlitt collection to the Wordsworth Trust, we’ll be showing you this picture of the man:

hazlitt2.jpg

And linking to his essay on Gifford. I’ll disobey my own advice about not letting Genius get close. Here’s something from the link. It might as well be the Mail he’s talking about, or any Murdochite scribbler:

No statement in the Quarterly Review is to be trusted: there is no fact that is not misrepresented in it, no quotation that is not garbled, no character that is not slandered, if it can answer the purposes of a party to do so. The weight of power, of wealth, of rank is thrown into the scale, gives its impulse to the machine; and the whole is under the guidance of Mr. Gifford’s instinctive genius — of the inborn hatred of servility for independence, of dulness for talent, of cunning and impudence for truth and honesty. It costs him no effort to execute his disreputable task; in being the tool of a crooked policy, he but labours in his natural vocation. He patches up a rotten system, as he would supply the chasms in a worm-eaten manuscript, from a grovelling incapacity to do any thing better: thinks that if a single iota in the claims of prerogative and power were lost, the whole fabric of society would fall upon his head and crush him…

I decree him our literary patron saint. Guide the LNR, William, please!