Hazlitt, William (1778–1830)

Writer and painter. He first met Southey in 1803, whilst in the Lakes on a commission from Sir George Beaumont to paint Coleridge, Hartley Coleridge and Wordsworth. Their relationship was, though, to be conducted largely in the public sphere, via the medium of newspapers and reviews. The catalyst for so public a relationship was undoubtedly Southey’s appointment as Poet Laureate in September 1813. Over the next decade or so Hazlitt produced a series of reviews and essays devoted to Southey and his works. His observations on the new Poet Laureate appeared in the Morning Chronicle on 18 and 20 September 1813, followed by his appraisal of the Laureate’s first ‘official’ publication (the ode Carmen Triumphale) in the pages of the same newspaper on 8 January 1814. His critique was continued in a review of The Lay of the Laureate, gained new ferocity in pages of the Examiner during the 1817 controversy over the illicit publication of Southey’s Wat Tyler, continued in the Lectures on the English Poets (1818–19) and culminated in the pen-portrait of Southey in The Spirit of the Age (1825).

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