1787: -- Go to Chapter 1
§ Arriving back from America the family spends a number of months in London, the family then takes up residence at Wem, Shropshire. John, his brother, now twenty years of age, was left behind in London to take up his studies with Sir Joshua Reynolds, and "to move in the Godwin circle."
§ Sister Peggy's description of her younger brother: "He [William] was at this time the most active, lively, and happiest of boys ... the delight and pride of his own family."
1788: -- Go to Chapter 1
§ Jan 26: First convicts (and free settlers) arrive in New South Wales — the 'First Fleet'
§ Law passed requiring that chimney sweepers be a minimum of 8 years old (not enforced).
§ First slave carrying act, the Dolben Act of 1788, regulates the slave trade.
1789: -- Go to Chapter 2
§ The French court, the envy of and model for foreign courts, was, both literally and figuratively, - bankrupt; States General (like our parliament) is called into session, it had not assembled since 1610 (France, in the intervening years, was ruled by an absolute monarch). The French Revolution ensued; the absolute monarchy and its attending aristocratic order collapses. Through metamorphic leadership: - States General, the National Assembly, the Jacobins, the Revolutionary tribunal, the guillotine, Napoleon - in these years (between the execution of Louis XVI, 1793; and the Battle of Waterloo, 1815) blood, death and misery flow over France, and over onto the neighboring countries, and into every other part of the world that had been tainted by European "colonizers."
1790: -- Go to Chapter 2
§ Edmund Burke writes "Reflections on the French Revolution."
§ Hazlitt, as a twelve year old boy, is off to Liverpool away from his family in Wem.
1791: -- Go to Chapter 3
§ Paine answers Burke with his work, "Rights of Man".
§ Louis XVI flees France but is brought back a prisoner to Paris.
§ French Constitution (1791): it contained the "Golden Rule of Liberty": Men are born free and equal in rights, ... Liberty, ... consists in being permitted to do anything which does not injure other people. ... The exercise of the natural rights of each man has not limits except those which guarantee to the other members of society the enjoyment of the same rights."(Articles 1 & 3 of 1791 French Constitution.)
1792: -- Go to Chapter 3
§ Charles Lamb was appointed to the accounting office of the East India Company.
§ September massacres in Paris.
§ Mary Wollstonecraft's "Rights of Woman" appears.
§ "... the fourteen years from the outbreak of the French revolution to the Peace of Amiens -- from 1789 till 1802 -- formed an almost unbroken succession of bad harvests, and that of 1792 was one of the worst of the series. ...
1793: -- Go to Chapter 3
§ In January Louis XVI is beheaded.
§ As the French armies move in to "liberate" Holland, it seems clear that England and France are moving towards war.
§ February 1st, France declared war on England.
§ Godwin's Political Justice appears.
§ Austria, Prussia, Spain, and Britain form an alliance against France (the "First Coalition.") Prussia retires after gobbling up Poland; Spain makes peace (July 1795); large parts of Holland and Belgium receive France as friends.
§ The trials of the "Reform-martyrs," Thomas Muir (1765-99) was one, who, with others, was transported to Botany Bay. These trials were part of the larger government effort to prosecute editors, nonconformists and radicals who were arguing for Parliamentary reform.
§ The fifteen year old Hazlitt attends the Unitarian New College at Hackney, London.
1794: -- Go to Chapter 3
§ Throughout England there is a fear of invasion.
§ Howe's victory of "The First of June" with a French fleet shows the world that Britain continues to hold its old superiority at sea.
§ A simple device for separating cotton lint from seeds is patented by Eli Whitney.
§ Habeas Corpus suspended and the Traitorous Correspondence Act passed.
§ The Trial of the 12 Reformers. Thomas Holcroft, Horne Tooke, Thomas Hardy, John Thelwall and others were brought to trial on the charge of high treason, and acquitted amid excitement.
1795: -- Go to Chapter 3
§ January: There was not a single mercantile vessel trading under the French flag.
§ The suspension of Habeas Corpus continued, and continued until 1801.
§ The Treasonable Practices Act and A Seditious Meetings Act are passed.
§ The Speenhamland system was begun in 1795.
1796: -- Go to Chapter 4
§ The French conquer Italy and Austria deserts Britain in her struggle against France.
§ Jenner discovers vaccination.
§ A general election refreshes Pitt's majority.
§ "By the end of 1796 further negotiations for peace had signally failed, and the French had required the British plenipotentiary to quit Paris within forty-eight hours. Britain had now reached an almost zero of humiliation and peril. ..."
§ December: The French under General Hoche send an expedition consisting of 43 ships 15,000 men to Ireland. A storm arose and battered the French fleet which returned back to Brest having failed in their mission.
§ "Undisturbed by [world] events, but not influenced by them, the young Hazlitt finished up his studies at Hackney, and returns to Wem." (Howe)
1797: -- Go to Chapter 4
§ In January, with Bonaparte having successfully invaded Italy and Spain coming in on the side of France, Britain withdrew her ships from the Mediterranean, which was to become a "French Lake" from January 1797 to May 1798.
§ February, 14: Battle of Cape St. Vincent. Admiral Jervis met and defeated the Spanish fleet.
§ May: Crews of the Channel Fleet at Portsmouth rose in rebellion.
§ By a parliamentary statute of Britain the torture of suspects and criminals was abolished.
§ October: At Camperdown the Dutch fleet was defeated by Admiral Duncan at the head of the fleet.
§ At Wem, presumably at his parents home -- Hazlitt reads constantly.
1798: -- Go to Chapter 5
§ January: The twenty year old Hazlitt walks ten miles from his home at Wem to hear Coleridge preach at the Unitarian church at Shrewsbury.
§ Wordsworth and Coleridge publish Lyrical Ballads.
§ Malthus publishes An Essay on the Principle of Population.
§ May: Nelson re-enters the Mediterranean.
§ June: Hazlitt, at Coleridge's invitation, makes his way to Coleridge home, then, at Nether-Stowey in Somersetshire. This visit lasted for three weeks.
§ August: Nelson destroys the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile.
1799: -- Go to Chapter 6
§ Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile reestablishes Britain's hold on the Mediterranean and locks Bonaparte up in Egypt, thus, the timid princes of Europe are encouraged to form the "Second Coalition:" England, Austria, and Russia. The Russians drive the French out of northern Italy; Nelson aids the counter-revolutionaries in the south.
§ In Great Britain taxes are needed to run the war: income tax is imposed at 10% and consumer taxes continue on such necessities as window glass, malt, coals, meat, butter, sugar, soap, candles, etc.
§ In 1799, Hazlitt moves to London to be with his brother John. It is through John that Hazlitt first meets Charles Lamb.
§ During February to June, Hazlitt attends Lincoln's-Inn Hall to hear "a brilliant" series of Lectures on the Law of Nature and of Nations at Lincoln's Inn given by James Mackintosh (1765-1832).
§ At some point during the first part of the year he attends an exhibition of old masters: Titian (Venetian), Raphael (Italian) and Lorraine (French).
§ "Till I was twenty I thought there was nothing in the world but books, when I began to paint ...
§ October: P. P. Howe pictures Hazlitt "in his brother's back painting room, or scouring the picture-galleries of the country."
1800: -- Go to Chapter 7
§ The Royal Institution of Great Britain is founded.
§ February: In England: A bill is passed making it unlawful for any baker, or any person, "to sell, or offer to expose for sale, any bread, until the same have been baked twenty-four hours at the least ... however, new bread might be lawfully sold to soldiers on the march."
§ The British army, for the most part, gave up the cocked hats and adopted the cylindrical shako,
§ Napoleon manages to slip back from Egypt (autumn of 1799), France makes him First Consul (dictator) and the little general re-energizes her; Italy is taken once again at Marengo; the "Second Coalition:" breaks up, leaving England once again alone to deal with France.
§ In 1800 Britain captured Malta, and in the next year Sir Ralph Abercromby landed at Abukir Bay and defeated the French at the Battle of Alexandria.
§ For a few months during the winter of 1800-01 there was formed a league against England; the league consisted of Prussia, Sweden, Denmark and Russia. With Nelson's capture of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen in April, 1801, this league against England shortly came to an end.
1801: -- Go to Chapter 7
§ In February, Addington replaces Pitt. (Pitt resigned at the termination of the Second Coalition in February of 1801.)
§ Great Britain and Ireland come together under one legislative body.
§ The very first nation wide census is carried out in Great Britain. (It is not of much use to genealogists as it did not list names, the listing of names was to first come about with the census of 1841.)
§ It was an age when gentlemen found fault with anything and everything that came to their attention.
§ In 1801 the penny post became the two penny post.
§ October: Preliminary Articles of Peace are signed at London.
§ In the first eight years of the war (1793-1801) the British navy had practically doubled the number of fighting ships, whereas, France had actually fewer ships in her navy.
1802: -- Go to Chapter 8
§ The Treaty of Amiens is signed and the war between France and England is ended leaving France supreme in Western Europe, and England supreme on the oceans of the world.
§ July: General election in Great Britain.
§ The Edinburgh Review is founded.
§ October 16th: Hazlitt arrives at Paris; he makes copies of the Titians he sees in the Louvre.
§ Invention of paper-making machine (Fourdrinier brothers).
1803: -- Go to Chapter 8 & Go to Chapter 9
§ January: Hazlitt returns to London from having spent three months at Paris.
§ In March the British Commons passed a resolution calling for an additional number of 10,000 men to be employed for the sea service.
§ May 18th: A declaration of war was laid before parliament.
§ May 20th: Lord Nelson sailed from Portsmouth to take the command in the Mediterranean.
§ Summer: Hazlitt sojourns to the Lakes.
§ August, 14th: Dorothy and William Wordsworth "set off with Coleridge on their tour into Scotland, while Hazlitt returns to his painting headquarters at Liverpool and Manchester."
§ September 16th: Coleridge describes Hazlitt to Thomas Wedgwood in a letter, "a fair portrait painter but his manners are ... singularly repulsive; brow-hanging, shoe-contemplative, strange. ..."
§ October 14th: Hazlitt comes to Greta Hall to put some finishing touches on a portrait that he was doing of Coleridge; he stays there in the area for six weeks, to the end of December.
§ While in the Lake District, Hazlitt "indulged in an amatory escapade from the consequences of which he had to be extricated."
§ December 27th: Hazlitt leaves Greta Hall.
§ May 18th, 1804: Pitt is recalled and takes his seat as the prime minister, once again. The same day that his arch rival, Napoleon is proclaimed Emperor of the French.
§ "On the 11th of April 1804, a treaty was concluded at St. Petersburg between Great Britain and Russia, the "Third Coalition."
§ August 9th: Austria joins in with the "Third Coalition" against Napoleon.
§ October 27th: Hazlitt is in London and living with his brother at 109 Russell Street.
§ Hazlitt completes portraits of Charles Lamb and of Hazlitt's father.
§ December 12th: War breaks out between Britain and Bonaparte-dominated Spain.
§ Trevithick adapts the Watt engine to a vehicle, and the locomotive comes into being.
1805: -- Go to Chapter 10
§ March: Lamb sends off to Hazlitt, by "the Wem coach," a package containing "a book and a rare print."
§ August: Napoleon was still intent on invading England, but is obliged to send his troops northeast to meet the Russians and the Austrians.
§ October 21st, Nelson's victory at Trafalgar.
§ December of 1805 the Battle of Austerlitz. Napoleon decisively defeated the armies of Russia and Austria.
§ Sarah Stoddart returns from Malta (she had been visiting with her brother); she goes to live in a cottage in Winterslow; her father is dead and her mother is mad.
§ Hazlitt sees to the publication of his essay, "An Essay on the Principles of Human Action."
§ December: Hazlitt spends Christmas at Wem with his family.
1806: -- Go to Chapter 10
§ On January 23rd, in Britain, Pitt dies; Fox takes over.
§ In September Fox dies in office. Grenville, the foreign secretary since 1791, forms the government of "All the Talents" which was dissolved in 1807.
§ By a proclamation, dated Berlin, November 21st, 1806, Napoleon declares that the British Isles to be in a state of blockade; further, that all letters going to, or coming from England, are not to be forwarded,and all those written in English are to be suppressed; and further, that trade in English goods is to be rigorously prohibited.
§ In anticipation of being published by Godwin, Charles and Mary Lamb are busy adapting Shakespeare's plays so that they maybe more easily understood by the young reader.
§ December 10th: Hazlitt, together with Lamb, his sister, Mary, and Crabb Robinson, goes to the theatre at Drury Lane to watch a play written by Lamb, Mr. H.
1807: -- Go to Chapter 12
§ January 7th, 1807: British Order-in-Council prohibits trade.
§ March 25th: The Abolition of the Slave Trade receives Royal Assent in Great Britain but its intended effect is to only prohibited the traffic in Slaves.
§ May: General election in Great Britain.
§ March 22nd, 1807: The "Chesapeake Incident": The British frigate Leopard fires on the American ship Chesapeake for its failure to stop so that it might be searched.
§ Robert Fulton's Clermont proves the practicality of steam power for river craft.
§ September: Copenhagen and the Danish fleet is captured.
§ November 8th: Portugal is compelled by Napoleon to confiscate British property and shut her ports against England.
§ December 22, 1807: An Embargo Act is passed in Washington.
§ Hazlitt moves into rooms of his own at 34 Southampton Buildings. (Seven years earlier Lamb had stayed at the same place for nine months.)
§ Hazlitt during this time was one of Lamb's circle, the members of which met weekly for discussion, cribbage and whist.
§ Hazlitt is now corresponding with Sarah Stoddart.
§ Hazlitt writes "Edmund Burke."
§ Hazlitt writes "Reply to Malthus."
1808: -- Go to Chapter 11 & Go to Chapter 12
§ As of 1808, there were 795 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy, 144 being ships of the line; this to be compared with 660 in 1804, of which 103 were ships of the line.
§ The streets of London are cluttered with horse-drawn carts; and flocks of sheep are still driven through the streets.
§ William Nicholson (1753-1815), the waterworks engineer from Portsmouth, sees to the publication of Dictionary of Practical and Theoretical Chemistry.
§ Murray publishes Hazlitt's The Eloquence of the British Senate, it goes into a second edition.
§ April: On visit to the Lambs at London Wordsworth meets, "unluckily," William Hazlitt and Sarah Stoddart.
§ May 1st, Sunday: At St. Andrew's Church, Holborn; William Hazlitt and Sarah Stoddart are married.
§ July: In support of a Spanish rising, Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) leads the first small British force of 9000 men into the Peninsula of Spain; a gate into the hostile fortress of Napoleonic Europe.
§ The lawful import of slaves ends in the United States.
§ Congreve rocket: "A kind of rocket for use in war, invented in 1808 by Col. Sir William Congreve (1772-1828)." (OED.)
1809: -- Go to Chapter 11 & Go to Chapter 12
§ Thomas Paine dies.
§ The Hazlitts live at Winterslow, some seven miles from Salisbury.
§ January 15 - Hazlitts' child is born.
§ March 23rd: Thomas Holcroft, one of "The twelve Reformers" that had been put on trial, at age 64, died.
§ July 5 - Hazlitts' child dies.
§ June 7th - Charles Lamb makes a move from his "Chambers in the Temple" to another "at No. 4 Inner Temple Lane, far more commodious and roomy."
§ October: Mr. Lamb, Miss. Lamb and others of their circle come to visit Hazlitt at Winterslow. Hazlitt is now working on his, Memoir of Holcroft.
§ November, 1809: Constable, the publisher, brings out, apparently with the intercession of Godwin, "A New and Improved Grammar of the English Tongue," a combined effort of both Hazlitt and Godwin.
1810: -- Go to Chapter 12
§ January: Hazlitt is doing edits to his Memoir of Holcroft; the work, in fact, is not published until 1816.
§ George III is ill; his son, the Duke of Wales (1762-1830) takes over as the Prince Regent. (It was in 1820, on his father's death, the Duke became George IV.)
§ July: The Bank of England at London fails "followed by another in Exeter and a third in Salisbury." "The war, the commercial embargoes, the heavy taxes, the new machinery, and the paper money were all blamed for the distress of the people."
§ Brougham enters parliament.
§ Charles and Mary Lamb visit the Hazlitts, again, in the summer of 1810.