10th April 1779 - William Hazlitt born

/images/William_Hazlitt_1870_portrait.jpg On this day in 1778 the great English essayist William Hazlitt was born in Kent. However, he lived for much of his life in Winterslow.

Duncan Wu wrote this in the Independent:

In his time, Winterslow Hut (now the Pheasant Inn) was in the middle of nowhere, something almost impossible to imagine now, given the A30 dual carriageway directly in front of it; as in Hazlitt’s time, it is the main road from Salisbury to Andover. In those days, the only thing to pass along it was the occasional horse.

Hazlitt wrote whole books in the upstairs room he rented from the landlady, Mrs Hine. All of his Lectures on the Comic Writers were composed here in an intense burst of activity in August 1818, while in spare moments he distracted himself with the young lady who acted as his copyist.

That may explain why he portrayed it, in an impulsive moment, as a latter-day Eden: “I look out of my window and see that a shower has just fallen: the fields look green after it, and a rosy cloud hangs over the brow of a hill; a lily expands its petals in the moisture, dressed in its lovely green and white; a shepherd-boy has brought some pieces of turf with daisies and grass for his young mistress to make a bed for her sky-lark, not doomed to dip his wings in the dappled dawn.”[1]

Pic: Derived from painting by John Hazlitt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


[1] William Hazlitt: The lion in Winterslow | The Independent